Doug Ford‘s Progressive Conservative government has introduced legislation to put an end to the province’s Green Energy Act.
The legislation was tabled just before 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday. A formal announcement was made by energy minister, Greg Rickford, and infrastructure minister, Monte McNaughton.
“The Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history,” Rickford said.
“The GEA allowed the previous government to trample over the rights of families, businesses and municipalities across rural Ontario,” added McNaughton.
Killing the former Liberal government’s Green Energy Act — passed in 2009 when Dalton McGuinty was premier — was a major campaign promise for Ford.
WATCH: Ontario NDP leader reacts to news Ford government scrapping Green Energy Act
He said that the GEA had resulted in fewer manufacturing jobs in Ontario and that regulations around renewable energy projects had led to higher electricity prices for consumers.
The move comes after the PC government had already introduced legislation cancelling hundreds of wind energy projects approved under the act.
“We will wait to see what the legislation says,” said Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP leader. “What I’m concerned about is that this government is showing that their intention in the energy sector is the same [as the Liberals].”
“What we need is a government that’s prepared to make sure that all energy is operating in the best interest of people and business, not private interest,” she said.
WATCH: Ontario PC government introduces legislation to cut Green Energy Act. Jamie Mauracher reports.
Scrapping the GEA will likely mean major changes for the province’s energy sector.
For example, under the GEA, municipalities were essentially barred from disallowing renewable energy projects – such as wind farms – from being built within their territory. Many people opposed to these projects criticized this section of the GEA, saying it prohibited local communities from deciding their own futures.
WATCH: Ontario PCs introduce legislation scrapping Green Energy Act
The GEA also gave special powers to the minister of energy to green light certain projects, such as transmission lines, without conducting a full economic review prior to approval.
But proponents of the GEA, including former energy minister George Smitherman, who helped pass the legislation, have called the GEA and renewable energy projects in the province a big success.
Meanwhile, Liberal interim leader, John Fraser, says cancellation of the GEA could see Ontario move backward on renewable energy when compared to the rest of the world. He also fears scrapping the act could mean job losses.
WATCH: Liberal interim leader worried scrapping GEA could mean job losses
“My biggest concern this afternoon is jobs. What’s going to happen to people’s jobs in this industry that we’ve built up – tens of thousands of jobs,” Fraser said.
But the PCs say this isn’t true.
They say that the GEA was responsible for the “disastrous” feed-in-tariff program that contributed significantly toward skyrocketing electricity prices and that the bill’s repeal is necessary to prevent “unneeded” renewable energy projects being approved in the future.
“We believe the people of Ontario should have the final say about what gets built in their communities,” McNaughton said.
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