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Axing gas cards expected to reduce fraud, help consumers

Residents of Fort William First Nation welcome elimination of Ontario Gas Card

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Residents of Fort William First Nation are welcoming the discontinuation of the Ontario Gas Card. As of Jan. 1, those with Indian status purchasing gas on reserve will no longer be required to show the card to qualify for tax exemption.

New regulations passed by the provincial government will instead allow consumers to use their Indian status card. HST does not apply to goods bought on reserve by those with Indian status, or by band-affiliated organizations.

Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins says it’s a small but positive change, one the First Nation has pushed for in the past. He adds the move to status cards could help address problems with fraudulent use of gas cards by those without status.  

“It will be more efficient for us, and for all of the folks that come and purchase gas in the community here,” he says. “For the most part, I think it just takes away the opportunity for misuse of the [gas] card.”

Walter Bannon, one of the owners of Bannon’s Gas Bar on Fort William First Nation territory, agrees. He says he has seen gas cards for sale on Facebook, and that the government investigated the issue of fraudulent gas card use in the community several years ago.

“The card itself was just a number without any picture, so you didn’t know if that was the person or not,” he explains. “This way, the status card has the number, there’s a picture on it, so it’d be pretty hard for people to abuse the program.”

Customers filling up their tanks at K & A Variety, down the road from Bannon’s, were also positive on the change. Most had heard of the upcoming change, and were happy to not have to worry about renewing a second card.

Retailers will continue to accept Ontario Gas Cards until midnight on Jan. 31, as part of a transition period set out in the regulation. It is not necessary to obtain an updated status card, as those issued by bands and by the federal government already include the required information.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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