Toronto , ON – The Liberals, NDP and Conservatives are playing shell games with taxpayer money, increasing Ontario’s debt and killing jobs.
Green party leader Mike Schreiner has a simple reminder for the political insiders at Queen’s Park: the best solutions for Ontario’s economy are sustainable, low-cost programs that create jobs, eliminate waste and preserve our natural heritage.
The Green party recommends three courses of action for the short fall session.
1. Stop rewarding waste: start helping people save money by saving energy
The NDP and Conservatives propose to borrow $350 million to remove the provincial portion of the HST from home heating bills. At a time when many are calling for more equity, the NDP and Conservatives propose to do the opposite: reward big energy users – the wealthiest 1% – the most.
This approach will increase Ontario’s debt – already at $18,000 per person – and is a job creation strategy for Alberta natural gas producers, not for Ontario.
With the Liberals already borrowing $1.2 billion per year to subsidize electricity prices, the Green Party is pushing for a responsible program to address the challenge of rising energy prices. A financially sound plan will provide refundable tax credits or energy rebates for low-income families and remote communities. This targets financial relief for those who most need it, and delivers these benefits at a lower cost without encouraging waste.
The Green Party is also calling for the restoration of the Home Energy Savings Program to help people save money by using less energy. Providing tax credits or rebates for energy efficient renovations and products will create good, local jobs in Ontario now and permanently lower energy bills.
2. Revise the FIT review process to protect local jobs
The Liberal’s FIT Program Review is killing jobs and bankrupting local businesses. Though the review was planned, no notice was given that contracts would be frozen for the duration of the FIT review. In fact, the freeze was back-dated to all applications submitted after August 31st – two months before the review was announced. Local entrepeneurs are now facing at least four months of uncertainty, cash-flow issues and lay-offs.
The Green Party is calling on the government to be fair and process submissions before October 31st, and pre-approve new submissions for microFIT and community power projects during the review process at the new lower prices. These simple actions will prevent unnecessary bankruptcies and job losses while moving forward with lower FIT pricing.
Our local businesses benefit from a consistent and predictable policy process. The structure of the current review has created unpredictability that is costing Ontario jobs. The Green Party supports a responsible FIT program review and will continue to push the government to lower FIT prices as technology advances.
3. Keep government promises to protect our communities, clean water and farmland
Under threat of an election, the Liberals promised to conduct an Environmental Assessment for the Melancthon mega-quarry, and to review the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA).
The Green Party is committed to standing with local communities to hold the government accountable on these promises, and is demanding that the government proceed with the most rigorous terms of reference for a full Environmental Assessment for the Melancthon mega-quarry.
The Green Party is calling on the government to plug the loopholes that allow projects like the mega-quarry to threaten our water and farmland. This requires an immediate revision of the ARA to mandate a full Environmental Assessment for aggregate applications that meet the Ministry of Natural Resource’s definition of a mega quarry. The government must also proceed now with a comprehensive review of the ARA.
Government has a responsibility to ensure safe communities and to protect our air, water and food sources. Vigilance is required to ensure the government fulfils their promises and responsibilities on the Melancthon mega-quarry.