407 ETR and the Rapid Progression of Privatized Public Services

Regardless of whatever side of the fence you sit with respect to P3’s, most will agree that the privatization of Highway 407 in Ontario, Canada, was a mistake.

Many of you that have been following the group, “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power”, know their effort to change the 407 Act has been challenging. The public for the most part remains in the dark because there is a lot of technical talk that can make one’s eyes gloss over. Also, the public has been duped by some smooth talking politicians and over paid lobbyists into believing that nothing can be done with respects to the contract the Province signed with 407 ETR, operators of Highway 407. People often use the phrase that it is an “ironclad” contract. No contract is ever ironclad. There is always a divorce clause and as long as we still live in a democracy, where there is the will, there is the way.

I have been contacted by someone from a group from North Carolina, USA in a similar situation. Their group is called “Exit 28 Ridiculousness” on Facebook. It appears their governing authorities signed a contract with our friends that operate Highway 407. 407 ETR, A.K.A. Ferrovial, A.K.A. Cintra. The citizenry there are not asleep. They are wide awake and realize that being stuck with HOT lanes won’t be so hot, if they don’t act now and cancel the contract.

The group in North Carolina has been successful in rallying local business leaders into taking a stand against the contract and momentum is growing. One thing I love about our American neighbors is they are not afraid to speak up and tell their government what is in their best interest. Canadians seem to be more passive aggressive. We love to complain and bang our fist and get all “bang-ry” about things, but we tend to shy away from taking action when we need to. We just like to express our disdain verbally, but not actually do much about it… like arm chair athletes, we don’t play the sport, but have a lot to say.

One thing’s for sure with our American neighbors, they realize this type of Privatization… this P3 arrangement … has the worst record re: money for value. It works well for the private sector but the public and the economy gets the short end of the stick. In my opinion, I think the bigger problem is with money management, rather than how you can raise funds to build needed infrastructure. According to OPSEU’s President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, governments can borrow money far cheaper than the Private Sector. What better time to be borrowing money than now? Interest rates are dirt cheap. Paying back the loans are always a challenge if the interest rates change, but if you are letting a private corporation, profit off the backs of your citizenry, selling them a pipe dream without the pipe…letting them take without giving back to the community… you sure can manage to adjust tolls to pay back the costs of the investment if interest rates rise.

I have no idea how to make talking about P3’s sexy or appealing to the masses, but the masses have to realize that these companies our governments are partnering with are multinational corporations known for questionable ethics. Transferring the government’s power to these corporations is not only a mistake, but is illegal. In my opinion, a constitutional challenge should be made because government can’t trade their executive power for money. They can’t trade, sell or exchange their executive power as a consideration in a sales contract. Getting into bed with these multinational corporations is risky business. The public has to protect its interest and make the powers that be rethink the type of relationship they want with these multinationals. Once you let them into your bed, it’s hard to kick them out.

While most have given up trying to do anything about the contract with 407 ETR, the group “Stop the 407 ETR’s Abuse of Power” remains hopeful people will start to wake up. Like our American neighbors, we have to take a stand against the rapid progress of this kind of privatization. Take a breather. Think before you act. Never make a decision because you feel pressured by some trumped up schpeel that makes you feel you are losing something if you don’t act now. We all know sleazy salesman that sell you this way. We like to think we are wise enough not to fall for those sales gimmicks. Privatizing public services are sold to us pretty much the same way. Be cautious and walk into any agreement with your eyes wide open.

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26 Responses to “407 ETR and the Rapid Progression of Privatized Public Services”

  1. D Murph says:

    No driver/citizen ever agreed to the plate denial scam or to the MTO collecting FINES on behalf of the Private Company of the 407 ETR

    • Tammy Flores says:

      This is true but we were sold on it being in the contract and so there is nothing we can do.

      • D Murph says:

        There was no contract in 2004 lol
        This plate denial scam only began in 2005
        when Harris sold the 407 hwy to balance the budget, yet another crime that was washed under the table???
        If the Province still owned that stretch of toll roadway, then the MTO would be the appropriate Government authority to collect outstanding amounts, as they would be able to assure that the billing was not falsified in any manner.

        • Tammy Flores says:

          In 2004 the Province and 407 ETR went to court and the court ruled that the contract allows Plate Denial and didn’t define under what circumstances. Rather than appealing that horrible decision, they made a settlement agreement with the company that was far worse than the contract details.

  2. John Ludchen says:

    Hello, I’m new to the group. My story is not as terrible as some but my 407 bill is about $2300 and climbing. My issue was a broken transponder in 2012. 407 would not issue a new one until I paid the “incorrect bill”. I’ve been denied a plate sticker for 2 years. What should I do, cut a deal with 407 on a reduced bill?

    • D Murph says:

      I have never had any experience with transponders, however logically speaking,if you reported it broken on the date that you discovered it not working properly,then I would ask just who is responsible with regards to repairs or replacement of this device that has cost you the tax payer this huge sum of money unnecessarily!?
      Hope it all works out for you

    • Tammy Flores says:

      John, I won’t tell you what you should do, however, any deal you cut with the company will not be fair and will not help us further our fight. Hopefully, we start getting some judgments against the company and this will be all over with soon.

      • TJ says:

        Tammy….it is impossible to get a judgment when there have been no actions launched aside from the on before the supreme court.
        And that only addresses denial after bankruptcy.
        You keep saying soon but yet these great lawyers you speak of have accomplished nothing.
        There is no official mention anywhere about the Day ruling being reconsidered and even if it is …not for the reasons we need.

        It does not take 6 mths for a judge to clarify his ruling.

        These lawyers you speak of have no credibility at least with myself if this is as far as they have gotten in all this time.

        All the supreme court is going to do at best is reaffirm the ruling of the appeals court. Someday ….even that has been forever.

        • Tammy Flores says:

          TJ… don’t be a Negative Nancy. You like to limit things. We need the Supreme Court decision to move forward as there were questions raised that needs answering. Just be patient. I apologize that things aren’t going according to your schedule but that’s just the way it is.

          • TJ says:

            Not negative at all….Realistic.
            Tammy you need to understand that in court it is not what you know…it is what you can prove.

            Just like we all know that the 407 runs a shady operation but have no way to prove it.
            You yourself said the courts found that it is perfectly legal to deny plates forever as long as the toll remains unpaid…..regardless of age of debt.

            My schedule….that’s just plain silly.
            Would you not agree this has been a problem since day one…..who’s schedule would you suggest.

          • Tammy Flores says:

            TJ we can only go as fast as the clogs that are part of the solution allow. If you have a better solution, by all means implement it and I will be your fierce cheer leader, until then, this is all we have.

            I don’t know what I said with respects to plate denial that would lead you to believe I think it’s legal for them to impose it forever. I am not convinced it is legal under the circumstances it’s being applied. They have not proven one case of toll evasion and to me, Plate Denial is extremely punitive. It doesn’t seem to fit, as there is no crime committed. It’s just a skewed financial transaction causing havoc. While the 407 Act allows this provision, I think it ought to be challenged.

  3. TJ says:

    It was challenged….you mentioned it yourself. WE LOST!

    Tammy Flores says:

    June 29, 2015 at 11:28 am

    In 2004 the Province and 407 ETR went to court and the court ruled that the contract allows Plate Denial and didn’t define under what circumstances. Rather than appealing that horrible decision, they made a settlement agreement with the company that was far worse than the contract details.

    I do not agree with the ruling however the court gave them liberty to use this special collection tactic.

    In my humble opinion….Day’s lawyer should have appealed the court ruling re the SOL.

    At least hopefully that would have been corrected.

    As far as plate denial as a tool to force payment…..thank our judge. Now that was 10-11 years ago. It was a lousy contract but that is what our reps signed up for.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      I said I don’t agree with the ruling. We didn’t lose. The Province quit and settled. Because they looked bad. There is a difference. They wanted to cancel the contract completely and didn’t go about it the right way. 407 ETR went in with 10 actual toll evaders. People that had no intention of ever paying their bills as their defense. That’s why the judges favored the company. It was so toxic between the Province and this company. All the Province did was blame the previous administration for giving us a horrible contract. The company played … we are just a company trying to make a buck and we are being picked on by the government and people won’t pay their bills… oh no we didn’t lose. We were played like a fiddle.

      10 years later the tables have turned. Now the people are being bullied by this company and the Province acts like there is nothing they can do. They play nice nice now while the people are getting screwed.

      These guys will do what they can. I have no other choice but to trust that because the politicans sure as hell aren’t going to do anything.

      I don’t believe the company is in the same position they were 10 years ago. Mark my words. Once we start winning some cases… and yes we will win… and this company is held accountable, they will be trying to sue the Province claiming they were mislead on the viability of the highway. That’s a fight I will be there for.

      • TJ says:

        Tammy if you are going to run a site that is suppose to help then you must be accurate with the info you provide.

        Please look up the court case of the Ontario Divisional Court Nov 7, 2005.

        It is clear the province did not give up and make some settlement that you would have us believe.
        The Court ruled unanimously to endorse plate denial.

        So yes we as the public lost that one.
        Not saying its right just stating the facts as you should.

        • TJ says:

          They did not appeal because they knew at that time they would not succeed.

          The 407 act was clear with regards to plate denial.

          Again it is not what one feels or what one thinks in court , it is what you can prove.
          In this case under contract law they were dead in the water.

          • TJ says:

            In fact after the November ruling the Province attempted to appeal. The Ontario court of appeal refused to grant them leave to appeal on Feb 24, 2006.

            They then had the option to try to appeal to the supreme court….they did not.

          • Tammy Flores says:

            Thank-you they did not. They settled. Hanging on one word “shall” doesn’t give this company the ability to ignore consumer protection laws and place people in plate denial for the company’s mistakes. What I do know is that, the very man Premier McGuinty promised to meet with and didn’t, Jodie Parmar, was 407 ETR’S credible witness in that case. If he tells me that the Province can do something, I believe him over the shananigans that ensued after that circus act. Criticize all you want about the information on this website but we disagree as to what happened back then. The fact is the Province did make a settlement with the company and gave the company power to do whatever they want. They went beyond what was in the Act. Just look at schedule B. The Province gave up because they got it wrong. They have the opportunity to make it right and won’t. They have a hell of a lot more than 10 people to parade in the courts the way the company did.

  4. D Murph says:

    Hi Tammy ,we keep going in circles over these court rulings,or did the judge go on a 6 month vacation?
    However, on Nov 3 of 2014, Justice Edwards of the Superior Court ruled that the 407ETR is not exempt from the Limiitation Act Nor is there anything that perscribes a separate Limitation Period for any toll debt.
    In short the 407ETR must adhere to Canadian Law and the SOL Act is “LAW”
    Agreements or Contract can become Null and Void and can be broken, I see no indications of any laws being Amended that would disable the Limitations Act.
    Anyone that is under the 407 ETR plate denial scam for 6 years+ should be released from any further fraudulent claims of debt, the MTO labels this a Fine and under the POA and HTA there are no drivers that have broken any laws or been charged with an offence to warrant this type of injustice. Plate Denial is for drivers that commit an offence.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Actually MTO doesn’t label this as a fine. I wrote an article on this very topic. It has nothing to do with the default fine control centre. Some of MTO’s CSR’s wrongly make that assumption while speaking to the public and I brought this up with them to better train their CSR’s. This is just a mess. They know it and I will keep plugging away until they address it.

  5. TJ says:

    Sorry to say the Judge in that ruling did amend the SOL.

    He did it in this way. The Sol does not begin for Ontario drivers until they are put in plate denial, effectively making a 15 yr SOL if the 407 does not put you in denial for 13 yrs.
    Second the original SOL is to be implemented for any out of province drivers. So we now have 2 separate SOL when it comes to 407.
    Nothing in the 407 act says they must or shall put you in denial the wording is MAY.

    • TJ says:

      The problem with the Day case is part of the defense never included the 407 to prove the debt, it was simply that some of the debts were too old.

      There in lies the problem , a judge has never asked for the photos or transponder records since.

      Yes plate denial is an extra tool no other creditor has in their bag to force payment, and if the debt is valid I have no problem with it even if I do not agree.
      The problem is there has not been a case I am aware of where the 407 has been required to prove the debt like all other creditors have the onus to do.

      • Tammy Flores says:

        This we agree on 100%!!! The word may should have definitions attached like, proving debt, limitations like Hydro has re: catch up bills under OEB’s “Retail Settlement Code”, ect… Have a look at schedule B from that atrocious agreement the Province made. It leaves it up to the company to determine what’s a lawful charge. That’s why they think they are above our consumer protection laws. It basically says Plate Denial is to be honored until the charges are found to be unlawful. So we prove the charges 407 ETR has been charging is unlawful, then what? Do we throw out Plate Denial? OR finally regulate? After this company’s arrogant behavior, if we are to keep Plate Denial, I would put that power back into the hands of the Province to determine and take it out of the hands of this company completely, but charge them for the expenses attached to that.

  6. D Murph says:

    Exactly my point, in 2004 there was “NO” 15 year clause, written on any bills nor was it written that you may be placed into plate denial either. The charges have been under dispute since 2003 and never corrected and 4 year later in 2008 plate denial occurred. The amendment to the SOL you spoke of, should not effect this situation since it has been more than 11 years and was not subject to the same authority in 2004 when the 407 ETR failed to correct they’re billing errors!!!

  7. D Murph says:

    I recently went to an MTO office and yes they do label 407etr debt a FINE !!! I am still waiting for a reply from the MTO regarding the Actual laws in which the MTO must enforce In Canada.
    Since the 407 ETR have nothing to do with the Crown at all than the MTO should NOT be acting as a Private Collection Company for this “Private Corporation” in any way shape or form!!!

    • Tammy Flores says:

      Yes they do, but it is unfactual, incorrect information they are giving the public. Default Fine Control Centre has absolutely nothing to do with these charges.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on 407 billing. Regards

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