Ontario Liberal Government to Privatize Hydro One

Hydro One Privatization

Ontario Liberal Government to privatize Hydro One resulting in higher rates for Ontarians.

The Ontario Liberal government, taking the advice of a council led by former TD Bank head Ed Clark, is examining at least two privatization options for Hydro One.

Hydro One is the government-owned transmission company responsible for operating the Ontario electricity grid. However, it also operates a large distribution business – the local wires that connect hydro users to the grid.

The first privatization option, unveiled by Mr. Clark last fall, would see Hydro One’s local distribution networks sold while its transmission business remains under provincial government ownership. This option is thought to offer the best opportunity for the long sought after consolidation of Ontario’s fragmented distribution sector.

The second privatization option would keep Hydro One intact and sell an equity stake on the stock market, starting with a 10-to 15-per-cent initial public offering (IPO). Continue reading

Business out to kill new Ontario pension plan!


Ontario pension plan

Ontario Premier Wynne and Pension Minister Mitzie Hunter defend new Ontario pension plan from business attacks.

The Ontario Government’s proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) is hitting a solid wall of business opposition.

The purpose of the plan is to provide a supplement to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for the roughly 60% of Ontario workers who lack a defined-benefit workplace pension. The new provincial pension aims to increase retirement incomes of those enrolled by nearly as much as the benefits paid by the CPP.

But Ontario business is doing everything it can to make sure the new Ontario pension plan never sees the light of day.

Ironically, business is backing another newly introduced Liberal retirement savings option – the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP). On December 8, two separate pieces of legislation were introduced by the Ontario Liberal Government: one enabling an eventual ORPP and the other, PRPP’s. Continue reading

Foreign-owned Beer Store Monopoly Should End But Little Government Action Expected

The Beer Store

No Ontario Government Action Planned To End Foreign-owned Beer Store Monopoly on Ontario Beer Sales

Looks like the foreign owners of The Beer Store don’t have much to worry about despite recent grumblings that it is time for their 90 year-old beer sales monopoly to be wound up.

The Ontario government may very well end up doing a little tinkering around the edges but inside sources suggest no major changes in the private monopoly are planned. The Beer Store’s iron grip on Ontario beer sales seems safe for now. Continue reading

Ontario’s $2 billion Smart Meter Rip-Off!

Ontario’s $2 billion smart meter auditor general

Ontario’s $2 billion smart meter program for hydro utilities has delivered few benefits for double the original cost, says Ontario’s Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk.

Ontario’s $2 billion smart meter program for hydro utilities has delivered few benefits for the hefty cost, says Ontario’s Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk.

In fact, one in six of the 4.8 million meters have not yet transmitted any readings, she found.

And Lysyk took the occasion of her probe of the smart meter program to take a swipe at energy bureaucrats for plunging into the system without proper planning, and making it impossible for consumers to understands their rising hydro bills.

Lysyk took a special jab at Hydro One, which she said incurred about 50 per cent of the cost of the smart meter program — but installed only 25 per cent of the meters. Hydro One is the local distributor in charge of smart meters in Brampton and in much of rural Ontario. Continue reading

Ontario Auditor-General Finds $8 Billion P3 Infrastructure Boondoggle

Auditor General, P3's, Infrastructure

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s report finds that Public-Private Partnerships cost Ontario Taxpayers $8 billion more than if built through the public sector.

Public-private partnerships (P3’s) have cost Ontario taxpayers nearly $8-billion more on infrastructure over the past nine years than if the government had successfully built the projects itself. $6.5 billion of the overpayment of $8 billion comes from the higher borrowing costs of P3’s relative to traditional government infrastructure financing.

The revelation, from Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk’s annual report, comes as Premier Kathleen Wynne stakes the province’s future on a vast construction program that will see dozens of new schools, bridges and subways built over the next decade using the P3 model.

And the report strongly suggests that the Liberal Government can build that infrastructure more cheaply using conventional public sector financing. The current Ontario deficit stands at $12.5-billion. Continue reading

Ontario Auto Insurance Bill Deeply Flawed

Auto insurance, Ontario news Ontario politics

New Ontario Liberal auto insurance bill favours insurance industry profits at the expense of accident victims.

An Ontario Liberal government bill designed to reduce costs for the auto insurance industry entered public hearings on Wednesday.

Supporting the bill were groups such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the main lobby group for the auto insurance industry, as well as insurer heavy weights such as Aviva Canada.

Opposing the bill were groups representing accident victims such as the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform (FAIR). These and other groups argued passionately that a number of the changes in the bill would benefit insurers at the expense of accident victims. Continue reading

Ontario Conservatives Stall Minimum Wage, Worker Protection Bill

minimum wage index, temporary employmetn agencies

Conservatives stall on Ontario legislation that would index the minimum wage to inflation and protect interns and vulnerable employees at temporary employment  agencies.

The Ontario legislative committee considering amendments to a bill on worker protection and the minimum wage spent Monday afternoon and evening mired in stalling tactics as the opposition Conservatives pulled out all stops to block a bill designed to improve working conditions for workers in low-wage, temporary employment.

The Tories, led in committee by right-wing MPP Randy Hillier, filed hundreds of stalling amendments on the bill, all of which had to be considered along with the handful of serious ones put forward by the Liberals and NDP. The Conservatives said the stalling tactics were being deployed because the Liberal Government invoked time allocation – a measure that cuts short debate and fast-tracks a bill through committee and the house. Continue reading

Bank Fees, Credit Card Fees Gouge Consumers

consumer, credit card fees, banks, government

Governments must crack down on out-of-control bank fees and credit card fees.

Canadians have had it with outrageous bank fees and credit card fees.

The eight largest banks in Canada are obliged to provide a basic monthly banking package for $4 or less. These accounts don’t offer much — 10 or so free transactions per month — and they’re not heavily promoted because they aren’t very profitable for the banks.

Brian Shumak, a Toronto certified financial planner, said he doesn’t understand what the banks are doing to justify the bank fees, many of which have become automated and should cost the banks less to administer.

“Banking has become very costly for consumers and yet the service and what you pay for has not changed one iota,” he said. Continue reading

Ontario, Federal Governments Drop the Ball As Ford Gives $2 Billion Investment To Mexico, Not Windsor

Ford Engine, Windsor, Ontario Government, Mexico

A potential $2 billion investment by Ford to produce a new generation of engines has gone to Mexico, not Windsor.

A major Ford Motor Co. engine investment that the federal and Ontario governments were trying to land for Windsor, will instead go to Mexico.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, represents workers at Ford Windsor. In a statement, Unifor president Jerry Dias said that Ford was asking Ontario for a cash grant and the federal government for a loan, but would not specify the dollar amounts. “It was a very aggressive proposal by Ford,” he said.

In the end, Dias added, the Mexican government effectively outbid Canada: “Mexico will subsidize heavily and did, just like every other country that wants a strong auto industry.”

Continue reading

Premier Wynne on Ottawa Shooting: We Refuse To Be Silenced

Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Politics, Parliament Hill shooting

Premier Kathleen Wynne on Parliament Hill shooting: “We refuse to be silenced”.

Ontario’s political leaders considered suspending question period Wednesday at the province’s legislature in light of the shooting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said they “refuse to be silenced.”

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot and killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Wednesday. After the soldier from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was shot, a gunman identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was killed inside Parliament’s Centre Block, near the Parliamentary Library.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been rushed away from the building to an undisclosed location. Continue reading