Highway 407 is a rip-off with high fees and no benefits to Ontario

Highway-407-FICommentary by Ron Rhodes —

You can drive the 400 mile length of the New York Thruway (I-90), from Buffalo to New York City , a toll road with fully staffed toll booths, for peanuts. Actually 2.1 cents per km. No accounting fee and no video fees.

Then there is the cost of driving across the top of Toronto on Hwy 407 everything is electronic and automated, drivers pay for the camera operations and the billing costs in addition to the exorbitant toll rates… and the Ontario Gov. acts as ‘enforcer’ in collecting the unpaid tolls!!

Even Al Capone and his crew never had it as good as this during the bootleg liquor days of the 1920’s and 1930’s!!  It is very expensive to travel this road!

I thought you might like to read this, it’s a real eye opener, what a rip-off!!

In the early 1990’s Ontario was almost bankrupt under Bob Rae’s NDP government.  But it desperately needed new roads, as it still does today. So the Rae government built a toll road around Toronto and it was a great success. It was a cash cow called the 407 ETR.

The Conservative government of Mike Harris then later foolishly leased this road for 99 years to a Quebec-based company for a substantial amount of money. This was in May 1999, and was done to reduce the deficit and look good.

Before the Harris government could lease the road, however, they had to pass new legislation to allow this, because never before had a ‘public road’ been sold to a private company. This very flawed legislation was passed in November 1998. The new Quebec owners then closed the deal and Ontario had ‘sold’ it’s first highway.

This Quebec company then sold the road at a profit to Spanish owners, thus assuring that profits from the road would never be taxed in Canada.

As part of this deal, the Ontario government agreed that individual license plate renewal would be denied if there were any outstanding tolls against that plate and it’s owner. So this arrangement, in practice, made our government a collection agency for a privately held, for-profit foreign consortium. In addition, the terms of the deal stated that there would be no statute of limitations on these bills and that they would never go away even if the citizen went bankrupt.

Even your income tax has a statute of imitations.

The 407 ETR refuses now, as then, to produce any photographic or other evidence, that what they bill is an accurate reflection of the offending vehicles presence on their roadway. So there is no accountability and OUR Government still collects the SPANISH bills for them. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Spanish company decides on the interest rate on these forever bills and currently it is 26.82 per cent compounded monthly but it varies based on the whims of the Spanish owners.

And there is a definite problem with who gets billed. In very short order after the sale of the highway, according to the media of that time, 100,000 citizens who had never been on the road had been incorrectly billed. The MPP’s were deluged with complaints and so the Conservatives under then transportation minister David Turnbull told the private Spanish company to clean up their act. Until there was evidence of that happening their collection deal was cancelled. This was in 2000. But in 2005 the 407 ETR went to court to reinstate its original sweetheart deal. The judge ruled in its favour even though this company still showed no accountability and still did not produce evidence of the legitimacy of it’s charges.

The government of Premier Dalton McGuinty should have appealed this decision but did not.  Now the government is the collection agency for the Spanish consortium.. Now the agreement covers any vehicle that is owned by the person who has an offending license plate. So if you own six vehicles and one of them is alleged to have been on their road, your government will not issue any license plates for any of your vehicles until you pay the ‘alleged bill’ at your government license office, whether it is correct or not.

The toll in 1999 was seven cents a kilometer, and now it is 19.85 cents a kilometer!

There is also a monthly accounting fee of $2.50 and a video charge of $3.25.

That is far beyond the rate of inflation and there is no control on how much this foreign company can charge.

The tolls here are higher than anywhere that I travel. This road is simply built through corn fields, whereas in Mexico or Italy there are mountains, tunnels, bridges, etc., and still those countries have tolls that are substantially lower.  You can travel from here to Los Angeles for less toll than it costs to cross Toronto.

I believe the current toll in Mexico is 13 cents per kilometer, but that includes automatic medical coverage for everyone in the vehicle.

With all the road tax that we Ontarian’s pay, the last thing we ever expected was a toll road.  We need to buy back this road and break the deal with this consortium.

I find this whole arrangement both offensive and intimidating.

If any Canadian government is going to collect for any privately held company, change the rules on the statute of limitations, etc., then it had better collect for all private companies on the same terms. This current arrangement discriminates against all other private companies.



Comment on this opinion piece.


  1. I will not be using 407 as of today, I will also cancel my transponder, you guys are ripping us off, I will use secondary roads and leave earlier.

  2. One word.. WOW….

    Been using the 407 sparing over the last 10 years. Only use it when it’ll save me at least 30 mins on a 1 hour continuous trip (aside: you should get a refund if it takes more time than the average trip takes 😉

    One way during rush hour is 85 km… Even using it sparingly, I’m still $100 to $400 dollars a month (Only use it when the GPS shows trouble on the public roads. Waze/GoogleMaps are the way to go!)

    If I was to always use it, I’d be in the $13,000 dollar range (yearly)

    Got my most recent bill (200.52 for 422 km. Had a few off rush hour trips which helped) ….. But $0.4925 per km now to travel during peak times + in/out Camera Fees, transponder lease and tax.


    I worked out the cost per Km over 5 year to buy and run my car. … $0.3113/km

    * Insurance $1700/year
    * Travel of 40,000KM/year
    * Maintenance $1000/year
    * Fuel: $4480/Year ($0.112/L per Km @ inflated rate of $1.20.. I just filled up at Costco at $1.04)
    * Car purchase price: $26,000 (one time cost)

    How can 407 tolls (per KM) cost more than the per KM costs of the total vehicle?

    And Per the article, how could the goof balls at Queens park allowed the ownership to leave Canada, and not pay income tax?

    WOW…. Heads should of rolled; but the one thing that the Government has done well, is optimizing the lack of accountability…

  3. I received a $112 bill for one (1) use of the highway 407 on July 28. NOTHING on the highway indicates the fare that you can expect to pay, NOTHING! We figured maybe $20 $30 $40 tops? Wrong: $112. This company is a shame for Ontario and a disincentive for Canadian tourists who don’t suspect they will be ripped off while crossing your province.

  4. I think it is time that Ontarians said ENOUGH to the ridiculous charges on the 407. This is a road that Ontario tax revenue paid to build. I think it is time we took back what rightfully belongs to the people of ontario. Talk to your MPP and complain, complain, complain, till something gets done!!!

  5. i travelled from London to Bolton using 407 and back and it costs $29.76. OMG what a total rip off. I just can’t believe how much of a rip off this road is. I mean it was nice that there weren’t MANY PEOPLE ON IT. And now i know why. I am truly disgusted right now.

  6. Incredibly, no one is talking about this and I’m assuming that lobbyist are to blame. I recently commented on a news piece about this and was censored….why????? My comment wasn’t out of line with any of the policies and the only thing I had that was different was suggesting that we vote in a candidate who would want to bring change to the 407 fiasco.

    I pay some $500/month on 407 – that’s money that I could be spending on local businesses instead of going into the pockets of foreign investors. My commute is still 70+ minutes a day. I only take the 407 because I can (barely) afford it. Without the 407 my commute is (and I’ve tried many times) shy of 2 hours. Those that can’t don’t and as a result end up clogging all other routes around the city. A free or significantly cheaper 407 would relieve congestion on the roads because more cars would use them and in turn that would reduce people’s commutes – especially those where the 407 provides a more direct route to their destination. In turn this would significantly reduce pollution and stress in the city. Also the local economy would enjoy a boost since people would have more money to spend.

    I believe if a candidate wants to run for office in Ontario I would bet that they would win simply on the promise of doing something about this travesty. For those who believe change could never come I suggest you read “Unlimited Wealth – The Theory and Practice of Economic Alchemy” by Paul Zane Pilzer. Governments have the power of changing laws and adopting tax strategies that can thwart foreign investments in countries.

    If I don’t see a candidate do this soon – I WILL RUN!

  7. This is May 27, 2018, and the 407 ETR fees have gone up. On Apr 23, 2018 my wife was driving north on Highway 404, and by mistake she took 407 ETR. She does not normally use 407 ETR because we live at Bayview Ave. and 407 ETR. It does not make economic sense to take 407 ETR for 1 stop. I just received the bill yesterday as:
    Toll charges: $0.72
    Trip toll charges: $1.00
    Camera charges: $4.15 (Up by $0.90 since May 2015)
    Account fee: $3.95 (Up by $1.45 since May 2015)
    Total bill: $9.82

    What an expensive mistake. Do you think if you called 407 ETR Customer Service, and told them you made a mistake, that they would waive the charges?

    3 years ago I was travelling for the first time by car from San Diego to Los Angeles in California. The electronic toll road signs were not very user friendly, and I mistakenly took the toll road. Once I was back home in Markham I received a toll charges bill from car rental company in Las Vegas, Nevada. I contacted toll road support and explained the situation. They actually waived the charges, as I was new to the toll road. It as a bit of work, but the toll road company was kind enough to waive almost $US 50.00 in toll charges.Now that is what I call caring.