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3 new fees for Ontario taxpayers approved, 46 more under consideration

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after tabling the provincial budget on May 2, 2013.

MOE DOIRON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Ontario government has considered raising fees for everyone from drivers to police recruits to small business owners in an effort to scare up cash as it wrestles with an $11.7-billion deficit.

The Liberals looked at more than 50 options, approved three and ruled out one. They have not taken the other ideas off the table, however.

Earlier this week, a Treasury Board memorandum discovered by the Progressive Conservatives revealed that the government had asked civil servants to come up with ideas on new fees and charges before the budget.

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On Tuesday, the Tories distributed the complete list of proposals.

Among the more than 50 items are a higher charge for renewing drivers' licences, a fee for businesses applying for liquor licences and a tuition hike at the Ontario Police College.

Even users of provincial parks would be asked to pay up, under one suggestion.

The ideas were floated at Treasury Board before the current year's budget was drafted. Only three of the proposals are marked as approved, including a fee related to the Drive Clean program, and the government has explicitly ruled out one, the reintroduction of photo radar for speeders.

The government, however, has left the door open to the others.

"This is an all-out attack on the pocketbook of Ontario men and women that they simply can't afford," PC Leader Tim Hudak said.

Rather than raising new revenues, he said, the government ought to bring costs down, such as through less generous contracts with public sector unions.

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The government tried to play down the list's significance, saying it was only a series of suggestions.

"Read the budget, that is what we're doing," Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in the legislature, under questioning from Mr. Hudak.

The Tories found the memo and the attached list buried in a pile of internal government documents released to a committee probing the cancellations of two gas-fired power plants.

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