Response to article: Cyclists vs drivers: who pays their fair share?


The Spec recently published an article by Matt Pinder titled “Cyclists vs drivers: Who pays their fair share?” where he finishes off his column with a question, “when will we as a city choose to stop subsidizing driving?” I feel compelled to set the record straight.

First of all, our road network is important for emergency vehicles, public transit and commerce; without it a city could not be viable. Secondly, the automobile sector continues to sell vehicles at significant rates. Last year Canadians purchased 1.9 million new vehicles making it a record year for auto sales in Canada.

The automotive sector is one of the most important industries in Canada. 1 in 7 Canadians are either directly or indirectly employed in the automotive industry. It is the single largest contributor to both the Canadian and Ontario GDP contributing over 20% in Ontario; with almost $35 billion in parts, shipments and $20 billion in exports. Automotive part manufacturers are vital to the Ontario economy with the auto sector employing over 550,000 Canadians. There are over 3,949 dealerships, after-market automotive products, and service retailers. There are hundreds of thousands of additional Canadian jobs in industries that support the auto industry including transportation and financial services, mining, steel, chemicals, oil & gas, aluminum and high tech just to name a few industries.

The auto workers contribute over $6.1 billion dollars from their own pay cheques to the Ontario economy; approximately $17 million per day. Most autoworkers own their own homes with Ontario auto workers households having supported $411 million in municipal taxes in 2014; that’s $1.1 million per day. It is clear motorists pay property taxes just like cyclists.

The total contributions between the three levels of government are close to 100 billion dollars. The higher levels of government transfer these infrastructure and capital dollars to municipalities to facilitate road repairs. That is not including the multi billions of dollars raised by the provincial and federal government for gas tax. Hamilton receives approximately 40 million in gas tax per year alone. Steel and Auto industry also contribute significant amounts of tax dollars to the Municipality. So you see, that this straw man argument put forward by Matt Pinder is lacking in objectivity, clearly looking through a narrow lens. It is not appreciating the significance of the financial contributions that the auto industry and motorists make to government. I trust this helps set the record straight.



Terry Whitehead