FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2017
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett addressed the contradiction of the Fair Hydro Act during debate on the topic in the Ontario Legislature.
“There’s a figure of speech, where apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. It’s known as an oxymoron. The phrase that comes to mind is ‘Fair Hydro Act. Any time the words ‘fair’ and ‘hydro’ appear in the same sentence from this government, by my definition, my recollection of English grammar, that would be an oxymoron,” Barrett said in the Legislature.
Saying there has been nothing “fair about how this government has handled the hydro file”, Barrett provided examples of how the people have cried “unfair”, starting with the erection of industrial wind turbines in Norfolk and Haldimand, and continuing as people’s bills headed for the stratosphere.
He predicted the trend will continue as rates climb as revealed last week by a leaked Cabinet document.
“We know that by 2022 average monthly residential bills will jump to an average of $142 a month. So people will be complaining again. By 2024, Ontarians will see the highest rates jump to the highest ever, at $161 a month on average. We are known for having the fastest-rising rates in North America. This four-year plan really is going to do very little to ameliorate that trend. What’s worse, Liberal rates will jump again in 2026 to an average of $183 a month.”
Coming on the heels of the leaked cabinet document, it turns out the $1.2 billion price tag revealed by the Auditor General for the Liberal gas plant scandal in 2015 is just the beginning. Now ratepayers will be on the hook for an additional $1.56 billion to pay for the replacement gas plants in Sarnia and Napanee, according to reports. This means the cost of the gas plant scandal more than doubles to over $3 billion.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
May 15, 2017
Mr. Toby Barrett: Thank you Speaker. I wasn’t planning on speaking so early, but I’d be glad to. I’d like to share my time with the member for Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington.
Mr. Toby Barrett: He’s very eager to say a few words this evening, I can tell.
There’s a figure of speech, where apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. It’s known as an oxymoron. The phrase that comes to mind is “Fair Hydro Act.” Any time the words “fair” and “hydro” appear in the same sentence from this government, by my definition, my recollection of English grammar, that would be an oxymoron.
There is nothing fair about how this government has handled the hydro file. We’re going into an election next year. Who knows? Maybe this summer, maybe next fall. We went through this same debate before the last election and well before that I was hearing cries from my constituents: “Not fair.”
It goes back to the wind turbines that were erected—this may well be three elections ago—down in my riding, down in Clear Creek, where the first ones to go up were through AIM power generation. People felt that wasn’t fair at the time. Some people were kind of intrigued with the idea and then they erected them so close to homes down there along Lake Erie, along a tourist area. It is really unfortunate to put these behemoths next door to beautiful, pristine places along Lake Erie where people from the city like to come down and travel.
Another example of unfairness is in Haldimand county, also in my riding. There are parts of Haldimand county, it doesn’t matter which window you look out of from your house, where you see an industrial wind turbine. That’s not fair to those people. They have a major investment in their home. Many of them have picture windows for a reason. Guess what they get to look at?
The cries of “Not fair” accelerated when the electricity rates started to skyrocket. This can go back, really, 14 years. Speaker, you may recall the last few months
(Mr. Toby Barrett)
… This can go back, really, 14 years. Speaker, you may recall the last few months that we were government members the electricity rates were frozen at 4.3 cents a kilowatt hour—far from that now. I ask people across the way if they are not hearing this as well from their constituents. We hear more cries of “Not fair” and “No” and “This is a public utility” with the announcement of the selling off of Hydro One, the genesis going back well over 100 years, one of Ontario’s oldest assets. We’ve had that distribution system going back to Sir Adam Beck’s day. Some may argue with this, but try to put it together. Think of Niagara Falls. That system was generated under the phrase “Power to the people.”
I tour so many factories and businesses in my riding, particularly in the last year, and the indications of unfairness—there are so many other problems: natural gas prices, access for people who want to work. There are many, many problems with industry now, and regrettably we’ve seen so many of them, of their own volition pretty well, fade away or pack up or they get that visitor, that email from the economic development department from Ohio or, down our way in tobacco country, the companies that come up from North Carolina and Tennessee. They may say, “Not fair.” Oftentimes they give me a phone call before they leave, basically to say goodbye.
So how can we be debating legislation that has a phrase in there, “the Fair Hydro Act”? To bring in legislation like this, that’s obviously related, as we’ve heard earlier this evening, to the sagging popularity of the present government, again, a bit of an obfuscation here in the sense that the 25% reduction we hear so much about—it’s actually a 17% reduction, allocated over at least one generation. The 8% HST subtraction had already been announced.
So we see a short-term goal here, I guess a short-term gain for some in this Legislature, and long-term pain for the rest of us and certainly for our grandchildren. We know that by 2022 average monthly residential bills will jump to an average of $142 a month. So people will be complaining again. By 2024, Ontarians will see the highest rates jump to the highest ever, at $161 a month on average. We are known for having the fastest-rising rates in North America. This four-year plan really is going to do very little to ameliorate that trend. What’s worse, Liberal rates will jump again in 2026 to an average of $183 a month.
So questions of fairness, questions of unfairness, all borne essentially—and I think this is really the sad part—on the backs of future generations, generations yet to be born. This is something you see with poor fiscal mismanagement. I ask people to take a look at the preamble of this bill. It talks about “removing barriers … and promoting opportunities.” It talks about the costs of financing these investments and associated charges, and, again, they make it very clear, they will be “allocated fairly”—if you can believe that—“among present and future generations.” That may make sense if you’re building a nuclear plant, where you depreciate that over a number of years, but not just to pay the electricity bills of today.
I think those are the main points that I wanted to make, Speaker, and I wish to defer to the honourable member to the left …
(Mr. Toby Barrett)
… to make, Speaker, and I wish to defer to the honourable member to the left.