Wynne government minister not completely honest in mandate letter responses: Parker Gallant
What follows is an excerpt of a letter sent by Parker Gallant to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. We present this because of the role of wind power generation in causing Ontario’s electricity bills to rise, causing increasing hardship for Ontario’s citizens and business.
January 11, 2016
The Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne, Queen’s Park, Toronto Ontario
Dear Premier Wynne,
I noticed your government’s press release of January 11, 2016 dealing with the “Ministers Report on How They Are Delivering on Mandate Letter Priorities”.
In particular I noted your objective to bring “Ontario closer to its goal of becoming the most open and transparent government in Canada” and felt that someone should alert you that not all of your Ministers are being completely honest with you in their reports.
I have only looked at the Energy Minister’s response but if it is indicative of some of the other reports, perhaps it is time to admonish them. They may not be doing what you told them. I will below highlight a couple of your Energy Minister’s responses to demonstrate.
Mandate: Mitigating Electricity Prices for Residential Customers
Your instruction of September 25, 2014 was: “You will continue to look for savings and efficiencies that will help keep electricity costs affordable for residential consumers.” His response was: “For a typical Ontario residential consumer, current electricity prices are below those forecast in the LTEP.”
My comment: That forecast was his and it must have been particularly bad (I think Bob has trouble with math). The reason I say that is because just 13 months (November 1, 2015) after you instructed him, the cost of the basic commodity (electricity) had increased 15.7%. He also announced late last year that he was dropping the “Ontario Clean Energy Benefit” (OCEB) which bumped the increase to 25.7% effective January 1, 2016 (just days ago). So, less than 16 months after you gave him his mandate he has caused rates to rise by that much!
Minister Chiarelli went on to note: “Beginning January 1, 2016, the Ontario Electricity Support Program is providing ongoing assistance directly on the bills of eligible low-income electricity consumers.”
My comment: he has taken action on this one by announcing a complex program for people living in what is commonly called “energy poverty.” But he has changed the rules for the agencies handling those families and individuals placed in a “heat or eat” situation and made access extremely difficult. Prior to Bob’s creation of the OESP, local social agencies like United Way, etc., dealt effectively with those families who had been threatened with electricity service cut-off. Bob changed the rules, taking away responsibilities from the Minister of Community & Social Services where the support program should rightly be!
He can’t claim he is “Mitigating Electricity Prices for Residential Customers” when he is increasing the price of electricity driving more and more people into “energy poverty”. I would bet he didn’t tell you that the Ontario Energy Board in a report released early last year indicated Ontario had 570,000 households living in “energy poverty”! That is about 12% of all Ontario households.
Another one of your mandated actions were related to removing the DRC; here is how that has worked out. Minister Chiarelli claims: “We have also removed the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) from all residential consumers’ bills.”
My comment: Minister Chiarelli did do what you instructed on this one, but the average household will save about $67 annually, whereas dropping the OCEB increased their bill by about $240. That means the net additional cost to the average household jumped by close to $170 annually from just these two actions They came into effect January 1st of this year, along with a charge for the OESP of about $12.00 per annum.
I presume this wasn’t what you had in mind when you conveyed your mandate? In any event I think you will see that the Energy Minister is not following your full intent on these matters. He also left the DRC on small businesses which employ many of those people forced into energy poverty who work part-time or at minimum wage. Continuing to charge small businesses the DRC means many are unable to afford to give their employees raises.
The other issue you pressed on your ministers was related to an Ontario with an “open and transparent” government. I notice the Minister of Energy didn’t once mention the words “transparent” or “open” in this context. He also is in direct control of provincially owned entities who fail miserably to be open and transparent, not to mention in breach of the Acts that created them.
I could cite other issues where Minister Chiarelli failed to honour the presumed intent of your mandate but I won’t tight now as I am sure the competent people in the Premier’s office will be examining the reports from each Ministry for that evidence.
A concerned citizen
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Gallant informs us that the Premier has replied to his letter, to say she was referring it to Energy Minister Chiarelli for response.