By Dryden Observer Staff
The Province of Ontario has introduced new legislation to help Ontarians with the high cost of electricity, but opposition leaders are saying the plan is too little, too late.
The proposed Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers Act, 2016 would save families, farmers and small businesses eight per cent directly on their electricity bills by providing a permanent on-bill rebate equal to the provincial portion of the HST. Rural consumers would receive an additional benefit from decreased rural delivery charges for eligible customers. Combined with the eight per cent rebate, this would mean average savings of $540 a year or $45 each month for eligible rural customers.
“ To build this province up for everyone, people need clean and reliable electricity,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “But it also needs to be affordable. I have listened to people’s concerns about how the price of electricity is adding to their daily pressures. And our proposed legislation is a solution that will save people money so that family budgets can go further.”
The government is also proposing amendments to expand the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI), which would allow more than 1,000 more businesses to shift their consumption away from peak periods. The expanded ICI would include all sectors and have a lower threshold for participation, delivering savings directly to the consumer and the system as a whole.
Leader of the Official Opposition, Patrick Brown says electricity rates are set to rise again before this plan can be implemented.
“The Premier can tout this plan all she wants, but let’s be clear: hydro rates aren’t going down. In fact, they will go up again on Nov. 1 before this band-aid solution kicks in,” said Brown. “If the Wynne Liberals were serious about tackling the province’s energy crisis they wouldn’t have given away $3 billion dollars’ worth of energy in three years. The government wouldn’t have signed 12 renewable contracts for energy we didn’t need. And they wouldn’t have started the Hydro One fire sale.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath suggested the province is trying to improve their image in an area that has proven to be of primary concern to Ontarians.
“People in Ontario are having trouble paying their hydro bills and as the Premier heard yesterday, they’re at a breaking point,” said Horwath. “They’re concerned the Premier is making decisions that are more about the best headline, instead of what’s best for families. It was amazing that last Friday, Liberal staffers were handing out leaflets at subway stops talking about rebate legislation that was barely 12 hours old. It looks like this is more about helping the Liberal party than helping families.”