Can we trust government to save for our retirement?

By MPP Toby Barrett

Last week I made it clear in my column that I am not convinced an expanded Canada Pension Plan is the answer to helping us all save adequately for retirement. I relayed the suspicion that one goal of the program is to garner more money to bail out public service pension plans.

If you’ve read my weekly column over the years you will know I believe the best way to help people save is by allowing them to keep more of their own hard-earned money to invest the way they feel fit.

But the reality today is there is little money left over once the bills are paid. Those on fixed incomes and seniors are not the only victims. We continue to see the struggles of the working poor.

During the summer I travel the riding door-knocking and hosting outreach meetings where constituents meet me at a library or coffee shop to let me know their thoughts, or seek assistance with a problem. In Delhi a few weeks ago, two constituents came in to air their frustration with the current state of government in Ontario. Their sentiments were in line with what my office and my colleagues hear daily  — the cost of living continues to rise but paycheques don’t.

The number one complaint these days continues to be the cost of electricity. The line of the day in Delhi centered around the $4 million salary and bonuses of Hydro One’s CEO – to quote one constituent: “I understand the idea of paying to attract the best and the brightest but maybe it’s time for the dullest and the dumbest.”

Many have been pushed into energy poverty. It all began with the green energy industry moving in on renewable energy and pulling the wool over the eyes of the current government with the Feed-In Tariff program – the infamous FIT contracts.

Rather than righting her wrongs, we now see the premier floating a $7 billion climate change proposal designed to eliminate natural gas, in favour of electricity, further increasing home energy bills.  I am not sure I would find anyone who would disagree with the idea of green energy but what good is it if people can’t afford to pay for it?

There is the misconception that there is a shortage of energy in Ontario –in fact the opposite is true. Ontario sells excess power to the United States at a loss. In fact, in 2013 we paid the US $1 billion to take our excess electricity. In turn, it was sold to American businesses, many in direct competition with Ontario.

Ontario’s electricity system seems to becoming more and more complicated year by year – perhaps for a reason. The green energy file has always been the government’s way of favouring and funneling money to friends and insiders. It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand paying 80 cents plus per kilowatt hour to generate electricity is lunacy.

Taxpayers don’t care how the system became broken, they simply want it fixed. Electricity is not a luxury, rather it is a necessity just the same as saving for retirement.

At the time of writing we have just learned the Wynne government’s defunct ORPP cost $70 million. Given this news, and the government’s track record on mismanaging energy, it’s fair to question why we’d trust them to strike a deal on our pensions.