Opposition says government hydro rebates not enough

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews defends the Liberal government's policies in the Ontario legislature.
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews defends the Liberal government’s policies in the Ontario legislature.

A Progressive Conservative MPP says the Liberal government’s eight per cent hydro rebate won’t help her constituents.

As announced in the throne speech, Ontario’s Liberal government will provide an eight per cent rebate on hydro costs, equal to the provincial share of the 13 per cent HST. Eligible rural customers will receive a rebate of 20 per cent each month, according to the throne speech. Laurie Scott, Progressive Conservative citizenship, immigration and international trade critic, argued in question period on Thursday that the rebate will not be enough for low income Ontarians.

“In my riding (there are) thousands of people who can’t cope with the stress of making their hydro payments,” said Scott, who represents Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock constituency.

Deputy Premier Deborah Matthews made her case for the rebate.

Ontario's NDP leader Andrea Horwath criticizes the government's plans for Hydro.
Ontario’s NDP leader Andrea Horwath criticizes the government’s plans for Hydro.

“We heard loud and clear that people want some relief on their electricity costs,” Matthews said. “That’s why we’re moving forward with a rebate in the amount of the provincial portion of the HST, an eight per cent reduction in their hydro bills, and more for those in our most rural parts of the province.”

NDP leader Andrea Horwath pointed out to the acting premier that she too had listened to constituents in her riding about high hydro bills.

“People didn’t want Hydro One sold off. That’s what they told me,” she said. “Some 80 per cent of people don’t want Hydro One privatized. Jobs without benefits and wages that you can’t live on, schools and hospitals that need billions of dollars in repair. That is not what the premier of this province promised when she ran her election campaign.”

Matthews suggested the opposition devise a better plan to reduce hydro fees.

“I wait with great anticipation for the supplementary, in which the PC party will outline their plan to reduce electricity costs,” Matthews said.

The eight per cent hydro rebate begins Jan. 1, 2017.