By Tammy Flores
January 1st, 2014 Edition
There has been some exciting developments for those that support reining in 407ETR’s abuse of power. For about 3 years now, the group, Stop the 407ETR’s Abuse of Power, has highlighted the need to regulate how 407ETR uses the provision of the Plate Denial process. It seems the group may be gaining momentum.
The Appeal Court of Ontario has ruled in the case between the Superintendent of Bankruptcy & 407ETR that the discharge of Moore dated June 21, 2011 released him from all claims provable in bankruptcy, including the debt of the 407 ETR and that the Ministry of Transportation is hereby directed to issue license plates to Moore upon payment of the usual licensing fees.
In the 45 page ruling by Justices Doherty, Simmons and Pepall, they declared that s. 22(4) of the 407 Act is inoperative to the extent that it thwarts the purpose of providing a discharged bankrupt with a fresh start.
We are still waiting on the lawyers comments on what this means for the Class Action lawsuit that was launched, April 27th, 2012, against 407ETR on behalf of people that claimed bankruptcy and 407ETR did not acknowledge their discharge. In the meantime, people everywhere can take this ruling as a sign of change for how this company has been conducting itself since securing a 99 year lease, on this highway, in 1999.
I have been critical regarding the lack of will from our political leaders to regulate how this company uses Plate Denial, however, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Province for not advancing the notion that collection of 407 ETR debts from a bankrupt person, is in the public interest. 407ETR made the claim that the collection of debts arising from the use of Highway 407 is in the public interest, as well as in ETR’s interest, so as to ensure that the public private partnership flourishes. I can agree that this is true for toll collection, however, 407ETR is not just collecting on legitimate tolls.
I think there is a glimmer of hope that the Province is not pleased with the business practices of 407ETR, using Plate Denial as a means of collecting against bankrupt persons in our society.
One can only hope that the Province is also not pleased with how 407ETR uses Plate Denial to collect unproven, questionable debts. Thousands of people in the Province of Ontario have experienced this company’s lack of respect for established laws. For example, not only have they been ignoring our Federal Bankruptcy laws, but also, the Statute of Limitations.
This company claims that, they don’t have to send you a bill in a timely manner and that it doesn’t matter when you receive a bill from them or what details are on the bill. If they say you owe, you owe and they don’t have to provide any proof whatsoever behind their claim. They use the Plate Denial process as their means to collect. Consumers are at their wits end with this company.
They claim that they can accumulate interest charges (in many cases on phantom toll charges) and collect for up to 15 years. So if you have never received a bill from this company, but out of the blue, you all of a sudden receive a bill for an outrageous amount of money… it doesn’t matter as long as they claim you received it within the 15 year window. We have yet to see this challenged in court. We are hopeful that the Province doesn’t need another court case before they act on what is obviously an abuse of process by 407ETR on how they are using the provision of Plate Denial. The Province can and should regulate the use of the Plate Denial process.
This company’s shady business practices include an invoice suppression scam, usury rates of interest charges, wonky fees, as well as circumvention of the legislative process re: independent arbitrators.
Is it wishful thinking on our part to expect the Province to regulate how this company uses Plate Denial? Perhaps. But it is our hope that the Province will start to listen to us regarding the need to regulate how this company uses the Plate Denial provision.