Ontario green jobs blowing in the wind?

By MPP Toby Barrett

Following recent weeks of wind powered photo-ops and measures to further entrench unaffordable wind and solar power contracts, it’s clear government is refusing to listen.

In the face of protests, petitions and at least 80 municipalities demanding a wind energy moratorium – a moratorium we in Opposition have advocated in the Legislature – government has gone to great lengths to trot out green-powered pronouncements of job creation and environmental stewardship.

The problem is no matter how many times unsubstantiated green job claims are repeated, the numbers simply don’t add up.

Government’s green strategy kicked into high gear last week with an announcement guaranteeing 1,800 new renewable energy contracts under the FIT program. This would be the same program that pays close to 20 times the going rate of power in some cases, and the same program Opposition Leader Hudak has committed to scrap.

The following day, government was announcing new financial concessions and job agreements from the sweetheart Samsung deal – and it’s 67 turbines for Haldimand County. According to energy analyst Tom Adams the secret deal could still see Ontario ratepayers handing-over up to 1.1 billion a year to the foreign multinational.

This last minute manoeuvring on FIT and Samsung can’t hide a green energy price tag that will cost Ontario families $732 a year more by 2015 – the untendered contract with Samsung alone will increase hydro bills of Ontario families by 7 per cent.

Government can wrap up the unaffordable FIT and Samsung deals in whatever package it wants; it doesn’t change the fact that expensive green energy experiments are being forced upon local rural communities, while concerned citizens are prevented any say in projects that will impact them directly.

For all these reasons I continue to stand behind our Opposition commitments to reinstate municipal decision-making, cancel FIT and the secret Samsung deal, as well as eliminate the HST and Debt Retirement Charge from electricity bills.

Most recently, the Premier himself came to our area – Tillsonburg – to deliver the hard-sell on job creation emanating from the Green Energy Act, and the spectre of lost jobs should Ontario reject his plans in October.

Statistics tell the usual story when it comes to this government and employment – the two simply don’t mix. A Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey has indicated the province has lost about 300,000 manufacturing jobs under the present government – and last week came word that Ontario lost another 22,000 jobs in July alone.

Photo-ops aside, people in our area know if you want to see the direct employment impact of the green-at-all-costs obsession, one not need look any further than Nanticoke. Government’s coal closure directive will be directly deleting 400 jobs from our area – now that’s green energy at work!

When it comes to jobs being created – or lost – by energy policy, it’s time to get the facts on the table; compare the jobs government has eliminated to those they hope to create, and let the numbers speak for themselves. Those numbers tell a story understood by governments now backing away from green energy subsidies –Texas, Spain and Italy, have altered energy policy upon finding that for every green job created, as many as seven jobs were lost.

Those touting green jobs need only open their eyes and ears and wake up to green jobless realities and local concerns that continue to be ignored.