Liberals’ hydro shell game is an expensive band-aid

Originally published March 9, 2017.

The hydro plan Premier Wynne announced last week is the most expensive band aid in Ontario’s history.

To stop the Liberal’s bleeding poll numbers, the Premier is going to borrow $14 billion dollars over the next decade. She says her baind aid will reduce electricity prices by 17%. This is on top of the $1 billion per year her HST cut on hydro bills will cost.

That’s a $24,000,000,000 dollar band aid, costing each household about $5,000.

The Premier has said nothing about what programs will be cut to pay for her band aid.

$14 billion in interest payments may be good for bankers, but not for you and me.

When I think about where I want my tax dollars to go, big banks aren’t on my list.

Stand with Mike >>

$1.4 billion per year would pay for 20,000 nurses in Ontario. It could save some of the 11 schools slated to close in Ottawa and dozens more around the province. It would go a long way to improving regional transit links. It could build hospitals, protect our water; the list goes on.

“These shell games have cost billions. None of them have worked.”

This is what happens when politicians mess up the hydro file and become desperate to buy votes. You end up paying big time.

Don’t get me wrong. We have a real affordability crisis on our hands. No one should have to choose between food and heat.

But I think you deserve more than a band aid. You deserve permanent, long term solutions so we can put that $14 billion into public services, instead of banks.

Here’s the thing — we do have better options! But first the government needs to stop repeating the mistakes of the past.

Stand with Mike >>

In 2002, Ernie Eves froze electricity rates. Debt went up and cost us billions.

In 2011, Dalton McGuinty moved two gas plants and we paid $1.1 billion. Then he added another subsidy that had us borrowing $1.1 billion a year.

Now Wynne’s 25% rebate is just the latest in a long line of shell games on hydro. 

These shell games have cost billions. None of them have worked.

“Right now our provincial electricity surplus means Ontario has to sell excess power at a loss. If we need additional power, Quebec water power is much less expensive.”

We should be looking at how we can provide relief to those who desperately need it now, and also save in the long run. Here’s a plan on how we can get there:

First stop: target programs to provide rate reductions for people who need it the most. Electricity rate increases are unaffordable for people with low/fixed incomes. The increases are punishing anyone on electric baseboard heating.

Across the board cuts like those supported by the NDP and Liberals are tax cuts for the rich. Wealthy homes use more energy and benefit the most by these programs. Instead, it is more financially responsible and effective to target price cuts for those in need. This can best be achieved by putting more money into programs like the Ontario Electricity Support Program.

2. Next, tackle the expensive elephant in the room: nuclear.

The Premier must say no to the nuclear lobby. No nuclear project has delivered on time or budget.

Increases in the Global Adjustment (GA) are driving up electricity prices. 46% of the increase in the GA is due to nuclear power. Two companies operate nuclear plants in our province: privately owned Bruce Power and publicly owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG). Between 2002 and 2016, their rates rose by 54% and 60%.

And now OPG is asking for a massive price increase over the next decade to finance the Darlington Nuclear plant rebuild.

Instead of pouring billions more into nuclear power, let’s close Pickering Nuclear on time in 2018. This will save us money by reducing Ontario’s electricity surplus. Right now our provincial electricity surplus means Ontario has to sell excess power at a loss. If we need additional power, Quebec water power is much less expensive.

3. Help people and businesses save money by saving energy. Energy efficiency and conservation are the lowest cost energy solutions.

We will all save money now and forever by figuring out how to use less energy to power our businesses and homes.

A Green Building fund will help us do this and create thousands of jobs. We can finance this fund with the billions in savings from cancelling the planned nuclear rebuilds.

4. Stop the privatization of Hydro One.

This will prevent financial losses to Ontario’s treasury and prevent future electricity price increases. Selling off Hydro One puts the Liberal’s short-term desperate economic and political needs ahead of good public policy.

The Liberal’s expensive hydro band aid won’t build an efficient electricity system. It won’t reduce costs in the system. And it will cost all of us billions.

We deserve better in Ontario. We need honest solutions based on good public policy to get out of this hydro mess.

Stand with Mike >>

Original Article at Huffington Post

 

What’s next – a 100% hydro rate reduction?

(Queen’s Park): The silly season has started at Queen’s Park. Both the Liberals and NDP are using magic money and credit cards to finance dishonest hydro plans.
 
“Magic math and accounting tricks won’t fix Ontario’s electricity system,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “But that’s what is on offer at Queen’s Park this week. Say whatever it takes to get votes. So I want to know – who’s going to come out with a 100% hydro rate reduction?”
 
Sharp increases in hydro rates over the past few years have hurt people and businesses. These increases unfairly target those in rural areas on electric baseboard heating. The increases are also hard on people with fixed incomes who are having trouble making ends meet. 
 
“People need real solutions, not accounting tricks,” adds Schreiner. “The Liberal plan simply and expensively borrows against our future. It’s good for bankers, not us and our kids.”
 
Here’s another plan for the (unofficial) Queen’s Park Energy Plan Week. This one is not based on fairy tales:
 
1. Target rebates for rate reductions to people with low and fixed incomes, special needs such as home medical equipment and unfair delivery charges. 
 
2. Save billions by saying no to the nuclear lobby. OPG is asking for a massive price increase for their nuclear plants. We cannot afford this whether it’s it is a paid for over 20 years or 40 years.
 
3. Invest in energy efficiency and conservation. This is the cheapest option available. A building retrofit program will help people and businesses save money by saving energy. It produces savings every year.
 
4. Reduce Ontario’s electricity surplus by closing Pickering on schedule. Use low cost water power from Quebec to cover any supply shortages. NY can do it, why not Ontario?  
 
5. Stop the privatization of Hydro One to avoid future rate increases and prevent financial losses to Ontario’s treasury. 
 
–30–

A day of action for a fairer voting system

Thanks to everyone who came out across Ontario to speak out for democracy, for fair elections and to make every vote count during last Saturday’s National Day of Action on Electoral Reform. We hope this shows our Prime Minister that Canadians care about this issue, and that we want him to keep his promise to make 2015 the last First-Past-the-Post election.

Guelph:

@MikeSchreiner speaking to people in #guelph committed to #ERRE. @JustinTrudeau @liberal_party pay attention! pic.twitter.com/UrS97LTCCq

— Shaun (@nevertires) February 11, 2017

Nice job #Guelph. Diverse, passionate and intelligent crowd gathered and spoke for Electoral reform #ERRE. pic.twitter.com/d5aUXbhKYE

— Shaun (@nevertires) February 11, 2017

Toronto:

At the National Day of Action on Electoral Reform rally in #Toronto. Join us at Nathan Phillips Square! #cdnpoli #ERRE #performonreform pic.twitter.com/usRNNOfVT8

— Green Party Ontario (@OntarioGreens) February 11, 2017

The amazing @BonnieNorthGP takes the mic and calls out @JustinTrudeau on #ERRE “they’ve got it backwards” @OntarioGreens pic.twitter.com/1AM5yQumxO

— Calvin Winter (@CalvinWinter) February 11, 2017

#ProportionalRepresentation is the best for #Canada #TOpoli @OntarioGreens pic.twitter.com/6aQoKONqYo

— Vicki Jewt (@VickiJewt) February 11, 2017

Ottawa:

Canadians stand in solidarity against @JustinTrudeau & @liberal_party #ERRE reform a bad decision for all Canadians #cdnpoli #OttawaVanier pic.twitter.com/CTB9tJ33AV

— OttawaVanierGreens (@OttVanierGreens) February 11, 2017

Barrie:

Amazing turnout in #Barrie for #PerformOnReform rally! @OntarioGreens @JustinTrudeau #electoralreform @BonnieNorthGP pic.twitter.com/wUFsPsGQdv

— Keenan Aylwin (@KeenanAylwin) February 11, 2017

Orillia:

Make Every Vote Count. Showing support at the #ERRE rally in #Orillia #cdnpoli #performonreform pic.twitter.com/fT5VHLc3vP

— Green Party Ontario (@OntarioGreens) February 11, 2017

​Keep your promise to fix our broken voting system

GPO Leader Mike Schreiner issued the following statement in response to Prime Minister Trudeau breaking his promise on electoral reform:

I am disheartened that the Prime Minister betrayed his explicit promise to make 2015 the last federal election under First-Past-The-Post. 

Honesty and integrity are so important in politics, and yet political self-interest seems to rule the day for those with power. 

The Prime Minister’s decision is a slap in the face of democracy and of Canadians who expect politicians to keep their promises. This decision will only erode trust in government and in politicians.

The Green Party remains committed to proportional representation as a fairer voting system, where every vote counts. PR encourages democratic participation and ensures results accurately reflect the will of the people.

Our democratic institutions must work for the people, not politicians. This is why the Green Party led the charge last year  to get big money out of Ontario politics. It is why Greens will continue to work tirelessly for a fair voting system.

Politicians must be held accountable for the commitments they make to citizens. I strongly urge the Prime Minister to keep his promise to fix Canada’s broken electoral system.

Governments have a responsibility to manage water as a public trust

Mike Schreiner issued the following comment on EBR Registry Number: 012-9151 – Bottled Water Technical Guidance Document.

 Patrick Spezowka
Supervisor, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Operations Division
Southwestern Regional Office
swr-psu@ontario.ca

Dear Patrick Spezowka,

I appreciate the steps the government is taking to protect our long-term water supply.

Water is a finite resource. 

Governments at all levels have a sacred responsibility to manage water as a public trust, in the public interest and in a way that ensures everyone has a right to access clean drinking water.  

The moratorium on new water bottling permits is a good first step, and there is a great deal in the new regulations that will help protect our water. To name a few of the good things:

Increased discussions with the Ministry, online reporting and public consultation – these will both help address concerns early, provide off points if a permit should not go ahead, and increase accountability
Mandatory reductions for bottlers in times of drought. This is a no-brainer.
Increased fees for permits to take water. Fees should cover the cost of water management programs, and with the new regulations will come new expenses for monitoring.

The most essential item missing from the new regulations is explicitly prioritizing public drinking water for community needs over corporate consumption for water bottling. The new regulations must prioritize human and ecological needs over commercial uses for water. 

Consumptive water bottling for export will compete with drinking water as our population grows and climate change causes more droughts. The new regulations need to take a forward looking approach that considers population growth, including targeted growth established by the Places to Grow Act.

As well, the regulations should establish a water taking priority list that puts local water use for drinking and food production above other uses such as water bottling and aggregate extraction.

Finally, it’s essential that the cumulative impacts of water taking on present and future generations is studied properly and without bias. It is better for the Ministry to handle this analysis independently rather than relying on the proponent, as is currently proposed. Water taking fees should be set at a rate that covers these costs. 

And while it is outside the scope of this posting, it’s important to keep in mind that Ontario must also develop a plan to eliminate plastic bottles from the waste stream.

Just six per cent of the groundwater around the world is replenished and renewed within a “human lifetime” of 50 years. Only one per cent of the Great Lakes water is recharged from rainwater and snow melt. We must ensure the sustainability of our water supply for present and future generations. 

Thank you for listening to our demand and the public’s demand to protect our water. The proposed regulations are an important step forward. I encourage you to strengthen the new regulations by putting water for communities first.

Regards,

Mike Schreiner
GPO leader

A basic income guarantee is the most effective way to eliminate poverty

Mike Schreiner submitted the following letter to the Ministry of Community and Social Services to comment on the proposed basic income pilot project in Ontario.

Ministry of Community and Social Services
6th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1E9

Dear Ministry of Community and Social Services:

A basic income guarantee (BIG) is the most effective, efficient and dignified way to eliminate poverty. The Green Party of Ontario strongly supports moving forward with the basic income pilot, a policy we have long advocated.

Income inequality is growing — the richest Canadians keep getting richer, but those with limited incomes stay the same or see their incomes decline while the cost of living increases. It is getting harder to make ends meet.

Eliminating poverty should be a top priority for the Ontario government. Everyone should have the income, resources and opportunities to fully participate in our province with dignity. 

We agree with the Honourable Hugh Segal’s statement that the cost of poverty is too high, and that “it is hard to conclude that the income support that is now available for those living in poverty is adequate in any meaningful way.” For this reason, in addition to the BIG pilot, the GPO supports calls for an immediate increase in existing support programs. Increasing Ontario Works rates for single individual to $1,320 per month and Ontario Disability Support Payment rates by at least $500 per month will help address the inadequate resources available to those currently living in poverty.

The government has a duty to reduce poverty. The BIG pilot should not be used as an excuse to delay desperately needed actions to reduce poverty now. The current income gaps in existing programs can be addressed while the pilot takes place.

We urge you to focus the pilot on eliminating poverty through a basic income guarantee. The pilot must be designed for success, and adjusted as required with poverty elimination always the end goal.

We recommend:

1. Being flexible and able to adjust if delivery of the pilot program encounters bumps in the road in order to design the best long-term program to eliminate poverty; 

2. Establishing an advisory body to oversee the pilot that includes stakeholders from various communities and backgrounds, especially those who have experienced poverty;

3. Focusing on testing outcomes for individuals and communities that prioritize key indicators of physical and mental health, food security, employment, community well-being and housing;

4. Ensuring that participation in the pilot improves and does not weaken the circumstances of any participant—care is needed to ensure that no participant is in a worse situation because of the pilot;

5. Making payments to individual adults according to individual income even for those in the same family; 

6. Setting the benefit rate at 100% of the Low Income Measure, instead of 75%, and selecting a lower tax back rate to reduce penalties for increased working income;

7. Extending program eligibility to 16 and 17 year olds who currently qualify for social assistance;

8. Locating pilot tests in different areas of the province that will represent the different experiences of our communities, including urban, rural, northern and First Nations.

9. Developing a transparent process for pilot site selection that prioritizes using Saturation Sites;

10. Developing a plan, as the BIG pilot concludes, that transitions participants into a fully functioning Basic Income Guarantee program in a way that does not reduce their benefits. Or implementing a “phase-out” plan for participants to transition out of the pilot in a way that avoids a significant deterioration of the participant’s wellbeing.

Reducing poverty is an urgent human rights and social justice issue. 

Poverty hurts us all in increased costs for health care, mental health services, social services, and law enforcement. We know poverty is a key social determinant of health and that it creates barriers to education and better employment prospects, preventing people from fully participating in our economy and our communities. 

A basic income guarantee is an important tool for addressing these issues. Thank you for taking a step in this direction. On behalf of the Green Party, I strongly encourage you to move forward with the pilot and do so with a goal to eliminate poverty. 

Regards,

Mike Schreiner
GPO leader

How to make fighting climate change good for your pocketbook

This article was originally publiched on the Huffington Post on January 26, 2017: http://huff.to/2kdb4tp

Imagine this. You open your mailbox this month. Voila! Here is your first carbon dividend cheque from the province.

Suddenly, combating climate change with a price on carbon pollution doesn’t hurt your pocketbook like conservatives said it would.

Ontario could have a climate plan like this. It’s called carbon fee and dividend. The money collected from putting a price on pollution is returned directly to households as a carbon dividend cheque.

Instead of a cheque in hand on New Year’s Day, you started paying for the Ontario Liberal’s cap-and-trade plan.

Now, don’t get me wrong. A price on carbon pollution is essential.

Climate change is already costing us big time. Nature’s response to our pollution is like a tax on everything.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that insurance claims alone from extreme weather events caused by climate change cost Canadians $4.9 billion last year. This cost will only get worse — ice storms, wild fires, flooding and drought will hurt our economy and destroy our infrastructure.

In a carbon fee and dividend system, you would be the beneficiary.

But the Liberal’s chose a complicated, bureaucratic system of cap-and-trade for their carbon pricing system. What’s worse, the premier gave the biggest corporate emitters a free pass to pollute.

That’s right. Ontario’s biggest carbon emitters won’t pay a dime for their pollution permits. I guess they had better lobbyists than you and me.

The Liberal plan will raise $8 billion over the next three years — around $600 per person. The big question is who will benefit from pricing pollution: all Ontarians or government insiders?

In a carbon fee and dividend system, you would be the beneficiary. The premier, on the other hand, wants that money to spend on pet projects.

Our plan is simple: Put a high enough price on pollution that businesses will invest in low carbon solutions. Give all the money back to the people so that you have the money you need to decide how best to reduce your carbon footprint.

We don’t want the fight against climate change to be a drag on the economy or your family. Our goal is make you and your family better off by fighting climate change. But we need honest politicians willing to say no to the lobbyists — and yes to good and fair solutions.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year- a fifteen day celebration where communities come together at temples and gatherings to mark the beginning of the year of the rooster – the tenth animal on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

The most important date in the Chinese calendar, this holiday is beautifully celebrated with parades, dragon dances, the exchange of gifts, and spending time with family.

New Year’s celebrations are important for all of us, as they offer the opportunity for renewal and to find peace moving forward with the year ahead.

The GPO would like to wish all who are celebrating a happy and prosperous New Year!