THUNDER BAY – The McGuinty government introduced the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB), which would provide a 10 per cent benefit to help consumers manage rising electricity prices for the next five years. The OCEB, which would help more than four million residential consumers and more than 400,000 small businesses, farms and other consumers, would take effect on January 1, 2011.
According to the McGuinty Government, “In order to have a clean, modern and reliable electricity system that includes renewables and creates jobs, the government has made significant investments. While necessary and unavoidable, these investments are increasing electricity costs. Over the next five years, residential electricity prices are expected to rise by 46 per cent, after which price increases are expected to moderate as Ontario will have largely completed the transition to a cleaner, more reliable system”.
“For a long time, governments of all political stripes have neglected the electricity sector, and that’s why we have made the necessary investments to build a cleaner system and to ensure the lights go on and stay on. Ontarians are asking for some assistance with rising costs, especially their electricity costs, and every little bit helps during these lean times,” stated Dwight Duncan, the Liberal Finance Minister.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the McGuinty Liberals’ temporary hydro benefit won’t help struggling Ontario families cope with skyrocketing hydro rates that are expected to go up even higher.
“For the past several months, New Democrats have been telling the stories of Ontario families struggling to pay their hydro bills while calling on the McGuinty Liberals to take the HST off hydro,” said Horwath.
“People realize they are paying a lot more for hydro and will pay even more in the future. They want a permanent break on their bills like the one New Democrats have proposed, but that’s not what the McGuinty Liberals are doing. Their so-called benefit is a temporary solution with an expiry date.”
Horwath pointed out that McGuinty is cutting hydro bills by 10 per cent over the next five years, just five short months after slapping a permanent HST on the same bills.
“Charging the HST on hydro is just plain wrong. But rather than doing the right thing and taking the HST off hydro, the McGuinty government will now be giving with one hand, while taking with the other,” she said.
Horwath noted that today’s announcement will not help struggling families in the long run.
“Families were looking for permanent relief, not a desperate political measure aimed at reviving Liberal electoral fortunes,” she said.
Horwath cautioned families against trusting the McGuinty Liberals’ latest promise.
“This is the same McGuinty government that promised their HST would make people better off and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Instead, the HST has driven up the cost of living and more than 30,000 people have lost their jobs since it was introduced,” she said.