Bottled water industry poll suggests majority of Ontarians support bottled water
Toronto – The provincial government’s public policies are significantly out of step with public opinion when it comes to the bottled water industry, a recent poll of 1,500 people in Ontario commissioned by the Canadian Bottled Water Association suggests.
The poll, carried out by Forum Research, includes findings that shed new light on Ontarians’ attitudes towards the industry, their consumption habits, and their views on the government’s approach to regulating the industry.
According to the province-wide poll, which has a margin of error of less than two per cent and was conducted between Jan. 21 and 24, 79 per cent of Ontarians purchased or consumed bottled water in the past 12 months, the association said in a news release, adding that this confirms the popularity of the product.
Nearly a third of respondents said the reason they purchased bottled water was due to convenience, and more than a quarter buy bottled water as an alternative to other bottled beverages.
Another key finding is more than half of those surveyed said they drink bottled water over tap water outside of the home, and that when it comes to recycling habits, 95 per cent said they recycle their empty water bottles where recycling is available.
Significantly, nearly three quarters of those surveyed said they don’t think it’s fair for the government to increase fees for commercial ground water takings if only bottled water companies are singled out and golf courses and other industries are exempt.
The poll comes on the heels of the provincial government’s decision last month to arbitrarily increase the fee for water taking permits from $3.71 for every million litres of ground water taken in Ontario to $503.71 – a fee the government said is designed to recover the costs of managing ground water taken by water bottlers but one that was arrived at long before the findings of a two-year review of existing rules for water bottlers.
“This poll speaks to the issue of fairness and consumer choice and should be a wake up call for the government who seem determined to make policy up on the fly, taking their cue from a small group of people intent on spreading misinformation and putting an entire industry that employs more than 2,000 people in this province at risk," said Elizabeth Griswold, Executive Director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association.
In addition to the 13,500 per cent fee increase which only applies to the bottled ground water industry in Ontario, Premier Wynne went on the record last year suggesting she wants a bigger discussion on the entire future of the industry.
“We have been very clear that our industry is prepared to work in good faith throughout the consultation process and that a more thoughtful, science based, transparent approach needs to be taken,” Griswold said. “What we aren’t prepared to accept is a review process where the outcome seems to be predetermined.”
Among some of the other findings of the poll are while three quarters of respondents indicate they primarily drink tap water at home, over two-thirds of also rejected the Ontario Liberal government limiting consumer options when it comes to what they eat or drink.
“This latest poll is just the first step our industry will be taking to set the record straight and tackle head on the misinformation and misconceptions that are being perpetuated,” Griswold said. “For example, 74 per cent of those polled didn’t know that our entire industry takes less than one per cent of permitted ground water takings in Ontario. Singling out our industry sends the wrong message to every industry out there. And that is, locate and invest in Ontario at your own peril.”