Wednesday September 14, 2016
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 14, 2016
Liberal throne speech promises hydro relief
In a bid to quiet the discontent that has been plaguing Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, the Ontario government promised in a throne speech today that it will provide rebates to urban and rural residents and small businesses to help offset high electricity rates.
Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell announced that eligible Ontario residents and small businesses can can expect a rebate on electricity bills that is equal to the provincial portion of harmonized sales tax (HST), which amounts to about $130 a year for a typical household.
Rural rate payers will receive savings of 20 per cent a month, approximately $45 or $540 per year.
This rebate goes into effect Jan 1, 2017.
The rebate aims to stem the tide of anger over rising hydro bills for many Ontarians, especially those in the northern parts of the province.
But Nipissing Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli says the rebates are too little, too late.
“Since 2010, your hydro rates have climbed $295 a year [on average]. Plus, just since last May, in addition to that, they rose another $255,” he told CBC News.
“To hear somebody is going to give you $130 of your own money back — that they now have to go and borrow — that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”
Taking the HST off hydro bills is something the provincial NDP has pushed for in the past. However Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas says taking off the provincial portion of the tax is not enough.
“People who come to see me, it’s because their bill used to be $67 [for] monthly equal billing,” she said. “It is now $300.”
Energy analyst Tom Adams points out there are other factors that will affect hydro bills, including rate increases and the introduction of cap and trade.
“Those factors will approximately offset all the savings that were announced. So in terms of net benefit, there’s not much to go on here.” (Source: CBC News)