Last month, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, kicked off a new legislative session with a Throne Speech that outlined our government’s mandate to create jobs, attract investment, grow our economy and make the lives of Ontarians easier.
The Throne Speech also provided an opportunity to highlight the investments that our government has made and showcase how they have contributed to a healthy, vibrant economy. These investments can be felt in every corner of the province, including right here in Burlington with the redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital; investments in GO transit, leading to all day two-way service; and a $24 million commitment to repair and renew schools in Halton.
Province-wide, Ontario’s real GDP growth was higher than that of the United States and all other G7 countries in the first quarter of this year. Unemployment has reached an eight-year low. As our economy grows, it’s important to ensure that these improvements tangibly benefit every day Ontarians so they can worry less about their bills and spend more time enjoying their families and the activities they love.
That’s why we announced a plan to help Ontarians with their electricity bills. Our plan will directly rebate the provincial portion of the sales harmonized tax on the electricity bills of Ontarians. This eight per cent rebate applies to all ratepayers and will save the average family $130 annually.
These steps are the latest in a series of measures we have taken to lower costs for consumers. Earlier this year, we launched the Ontario Electricity Support Program and removed the Debt Retirement Charge, saving the average low-income family $430 annually.
We also have a number of programs available to help reduce bills for Ontario families, including the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, the Save on Energy Home Assistance Program and the Northern Ontario Energy Credit. We have also developed supports for our businesses including our Industrial Conservation Initiative, which helps businesses install energy-efficient equipment to save money.
We have fully eliminated coal-powered electricity, which was costing us $4.4 billion in healthcare expenses and has been widely recognized as the largest climate change initiative in Ontario. As a result of this initiative, our children can breathe cleaner air and our ratepayers will not be subject to the same cost increases as coal-dependent jurisdictions that now have to take those same steps.
All of these programs are part of our commitment to ensuring Ontarians have clean, affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity. When we formed government in 2003, we inherited an energy system that relied heavily on an outdated transmission grid and expensive U.S. imports. We inherited $21 billion in hydro debt, a burden that has weighed significantly on our businesses and families. That’s why we have made key investments to modernize our system. We have rebuilt 13,000 megawatts of new, cleaner power and invested over $30 billion in new or refurbished generation, investments made on behalf of all Ontarians to ensure that we have a stable, reliable and green energy system with a variety of energy sources.
To put this another way, we have spent the past 12 years building tomorrow’s power generation transmission infrastructure, paying for it with yesterday’s money. It’s time for Ontarians to benefit from that investment.
The heavy lifting has been completed and we’re moving forward to provide Ontarians with an affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity system. While some have presented a bleak picture of Ontario’s electricity investments, it’s important to note that our hydro rates are less than half of those in California, New York and Massachusetts and lower than they are in several Canadian jurisdictions. Ontario’s Financial Accountability office recently released a report finding Ontario families spend less money on electricity annually than any province, other than British Columbia.
This isn’t to say that we’re content with the status quo. Far from it. We’re working hard every day to ensure that life remains affordable for Ontarians. In fact, just this week, the Minister of Energy announced new steps that would save up to $3.8 billion in electricity system costs.
Above all, we are listening to and acting on the concerns of Ontarians and are providing additional relief on electricity bills. The importance of investing in our energy system is clear—and an issue that impacts all Ontarians, no matter where they live. Balancing the needs of Ontarians means providing relief at the same time as we continue to invest in system reliability and a mix of energy sources.
We’re a stronger, more inclusive province when everybody benefits from our economic growth and I have every confidence that Ontario’s electricity rebate is key to ensuring that goal becomes a reality.
I am always happy to share information on government policies with my constituents and would encourage any interested individuals to reach out with their questions.
—Eleanor McMahon, Burlington MPP
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