Pressured by low approvals and a recent byelection defeat, Premier Kathleen Wynne used the throne speech to announce an HST rebate on hydro bills.
During Monday’s throne speech the Liberal government highlighted Ontario’s economic gains, while setting new priorities two years before the next election.
The province has an eight-year low in unemployment and its 2015 growth rate of 2.5 per cent, was double the national average.
The government announced Ontario residents will receive an eight per cent rebate on hydro bills, starting in January. That’s equivalent to the province’s portion of HST costs.
“This is a meaningful savings for many families,” Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeoult says. “By putting forward this type of rebate they can see those savings at the end of every month.”
Critics of the government’s proroguing of the legislature say it was an attempt to refocus attention away from their failings.
NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns says people are upset because the government has let hydro costs become out of control. The government is only now doing something about it because it is in trouble.
“I don’t see them changing,” Tabuns said. “Kathleen Wynne is not the person the people thought she was.”
After Monday’s throne speech, Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown criticized the timing of the government’s new hydro rebate plan.
“The Ontario PCs have called on the Liberal government to take HST off hydro bills for years,” Brown said.
Brown said the Liberals never considered the escalating hydro rates a crisis until they lost the byelection in Scarborough-Rouge River.
“We should be calling it the Raymond Cho hydro benefit,” he said. “Because if it wasn’t for his victory in a Liberal stronghold two weeks ago, this government would still be ignoring the crisis.”