THUNDER BAY, Ont. – A New Democrat government would cut the provincial portion of the HST from hydro bills, an amount equal to about $120 a year for average homeowners, Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday.
Campaigning in northern Ontario, Horwath conceded the measure is modest, but said it’s one easily implemented – starting in 2016.
“People are shocked when they open their electricity bills,” Horwath said.
“After 10 years in power, Liberals have left families paying some of the highest hydro bills in Canada.”
Horwath’s pledge came at the home of NDP supporter Jeff Caldwell, a working father, who said he would welcome the relief – equal to eight per cent of energy bills.
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His last hydro account, he said, cost $17 in HST, and such amounts all add up.
“Where do we get this money?” Caldwell said.
“We’ve got other responsibilities other than paying for the Liberals’ mistakes – not mistakes, recklessness.”
Ontario’s Liberal government concedes homeowners face a 33 per cent hike in hydro rates over the next three years but say it’s lower than previous government estimates.
On his campaign for the June 12 election, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak pledged to cut the “bloated” bureaucracy, import energy from Quebec and the United States, and end subsidies for wind and solar power.
He also said he would invest in nuclear, natural gas and hydro power.
“Tim Hudak’s plan is to repeat the same hydro privatization schemes that drove up bills the last time the Conservatives were in power,” Horwath said.
Horwath said she also wants more control of what Ontario earns when it exports power and said an NDP government would not invest in new nuclear power facilities.
She also said she would honour current contracts, including those that subsidize wind and solar power.
“We see what the result is of tearing up contracts,” Horwath said, a reference to the Liberals’ scrapping of two gas power plants late in the last election that will end up costing provincial taxpayers more than $1 billion.
The Liberals, Horwath said, had fumbled green energy in the province, leaving neighbours and communities pitted against one another.
She said the province’s four agencies that run the power system have CEOs and vice-presidents making “exorbitant salaries,” so the NDP would merge them to reduce costs.
“We’re determined to find those savings, to change the way our electricity system works,” she said.
“We can’t accept the status quo.”
Horwath was scheduled to visit Sudbury, Ont., later Monday before returning to the Toronto area.