Glenn Thibeault, Sudbury MPP and Ontario Energy Minister, today released the following statement regarding the Ontario Liberal Government’s work to reduce hydro rates:
“Contrary to the mistruths coming from the Conservative and NDP campaigns in Sault Ste. Marie, the Ontario Liberal Government’s Fair Hydro Plan will provide substantial, widespread and long-lasting relief on electricity bills that will have an immediate impact on peoples’ lives in Sault Ste. Marie. Through the Fair Hydro Plan, we are cutting electricity bills by 25 per cent on average for all families starting this summer, along with about half a million farms and small businesses. Families in rural or remote areas of the province will see up to 40 to 50 per cent off their bills. It is the single largest rate reduction in the province’s history, with rates also held to inflation for four years. Our plan is about real relief for Ontarians and a way to ensure greater fairness in our electricity system.
Ontarians are already starting to see the benefits of the Fair Hydro Plan, through the 8 per cent reduction in January, as well as the Ontario Energy Board’s May 1 rate update, which will deliver further savings to ratepayers sooner than expected. We are also introducing legislation this session that will, if passed, deliver on our pledge to cut electricity bills this summer.
Hydro rates have been rising because governments of all stripes neglected to invest in our electricity system for decades, which led to a breaking point with the province-wide blackout in 2003. We had to rebuild, and we chose to do it with clean energy. We closed our dirty coal plants, which was not only the single largest climate change initiative in North America, but the right thing to do. Smog days are now a thing of the past in Ontario.
The investments we made came with a cost, but our system is cleaner and more reliable than it has ever been, and now the Fair Hydro Plan will make it more affordable.
Patrick Brown and Andrea Horwath have an important job to do holding government to account, but an important part of that job is bringing credible, workable ideas to the table. Neither the NDP nor the Conservatives have managed to do so.
The NDP hydro pamphlet is both short on details and long on hollow promises. Many of that party’s proposals rely on a vague and yet-to-be-determined ‘expert panel’ that will be convened in the future, as well as pie-in-the-sky negotiations with the federal government. The NDP’s most expensive idea – buying back more than $4-billion in shares of Hydro One – will not take one cent off electricity bills. What it will do is send billions to the stock market instead of making much needed infrastructure investments in communities across Ontario.
But at least the NDP have put something forward. It’s been more than 60 days since we announced how we will provide real relief on electricity rates, and in that time Ross Romano and the Conservatives have failed to provide a single constructive idea on how to help families in Sault Ste. Marie. Their main talking point – ripping up contracts – would actually end up costing ratepayers money in penalties and legal fees, while reducing confidence in Ontario as a business-friendly province. This isn’t very well thought out for a party that prides itself on paying lip service to helping businesses.
It’s my hope that the NDP and Conservatives start taking their job more seriously, and start bringing real solutions to the table. In the meantime, I expect that they will support Fair Hydro Plan legislation so we can bring the significant rate relief Sault Ste. Marie ratepayers need for this summer, because it’s the right thing to do.”