New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives Spar over Electricity Pricing

Queen's Park building with beautiful night lighting, the building is the seat of the Provincial Government of Ontario and has a Richardsonian Romnanesque Revival architecture - Image depositphotos.com
Queen's Park building with beautiful night lighting, the building is the seat of the Provincial Government of Ontario and has a Richardsonian Romnanesque Revival architecture - Image depositphotos.com

TORONTO — At a time when people need relief from monthly costs, the New Democrats are stating that the Ford government is hiking electricity prices again. Peter Tabuns, the NDP critic for Energy and the Climate Crises says that this is “Dragging Ontario’s high electricity bills further in the wrong direction”.

“Ontarians are under huge financial strain due to COVID-19,” charges Tabuns, “Yet Premier Doug Ford not only broke his campaign promise to reduce electricity prices by 12 percent – he’s raising prices again and again”.

“Kathleen Wynne sold off Hydro One and hiked hydro bills because she put the interests of shareholders ahead of regular, bill-paying Ontarians. Now, Doug Ford is doing exactly the same thing – putting shareholders ahead of people.”

Energy Minister Greg Rickford disagrees.

“As we recover from COVID-19, our government remains focused on supporting Ontarians by keeping electricity bills stable and affordable,” says Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “We are putting electricity customers first by offering customers the choice between time-of-use and tiered rates and keeping electricity bills low with the 33.2% Ontario Electricity Rebate.”

The New Democrats say that the 1.97 percent increase comes into effect November 1, 2020, along with a return to the much-maligned time of use pricing, and adds an option for a tiered system.

Tabuns said instead of tinkering with the billing model while hiking prices, Ontario needs an overhaul of the system to actually lower the price of electricity.

“People don’t need the Liberals and the Conservatives arguing over who is worse for your high hydro bills – they need a premier willing to put people ahead of shareholders and actually overhaul the system to bring those bills down,” said Tabuns. “If Andrea Horwath was premier today, that’s exactly what we’d be doing.”

In August, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) confirmed that Ford’s smoke and mirrors plan to rip up green energy contracts was never going to make a difference to hydro prices. At best, the IESO said, rewriting hydro contracts will only result in a 0.17 percent reduction.