Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 17, 2016
Energy minister, Wynne defend decision to put carbon tax in delivery line on bills
Premier Kathleen Wynne is defending the decision to bury the cost of Ontario’s cap-and-trade plan in the “delivery” line on natural gas bills.
The Ontario Energy Board announced last week that costs related to the Liberals’ climate change plan would not appear in a separate line item on consumers’ bills for natural gas, which is used to heat most homes in the province.
Wynne said Thursday that the government doesn’t interfere with decisions made by an arms-length agency like the energy board, which she pointed out consulted the industry and public before issuing its directive on carbon pricing.
“My understanding is they talked with local distribution companies, they talked to consumer groups across the province, and as you know, they are an independent body,” she said. “They made a decision to configure the bills that way and we don’t direct the OEB.”
Quebec and British Columbia include the cost of carbon pricing as a separate line item on bills.
But like Wynne, Energy Minister Glen Thibeault insisted it was the energy board’s decision to put the cost of cap and trade in the delivery charge instead of its own line on bills.
Thibeault insisted nothing was being hidden, and said the government was being transparent about the cost of cap-and-trade just by talking about the new fee.
The minister walked away from reporters without answering when asked if the energy board now sets policy for the Liberal government.
The Liberals expect their climate change plan will add about $5 a month to home heating bills and about 4.3 cents a litre to the price of gasoline.
Ontario will join an existing cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec next January, mandating pollution limits on companies but allowing them to buy emission credits or sell them to others if they are under their quota. (Source: CTV News)