Peter Tabuns MPP, Toronto-Danforth

Government of Ontario

QUESTION - Energy Policies - November 18, 2021

Published on November 19, 2021

QUESTION - Energy policies
Thursday November 18, 2021

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Minister of Energy. This morning, Efficiency Canada put out its annual report on energy savings programs across the country. It reported that when it comes to saving electricity and natural gas, Ontario has fallen far behind its performance prior to the last election. Programs have been cut that would have helped homeowners cut their electricity use and cut their electricity bills. Programs to help cut their natural gas use are stuck in idle and, as you well know, the more gas people use, the higher their bills.

Why is the minister not restoring programs? Why is the minister not driving programs to help people cut their energy use, cut their energy bills and cut their carbon pollution?

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks for the question. I’m really pleased for the first time since becoming the Minister of Energy to take a question from the opposition about energy issues in the House. I think it’s really important to point out that back when I was the critic for energy along with my friend from the opposite side, three quarters of the questions in the House every day were about the high electricity rates or high energy costs in the province of Ontario, and you hardly get a question anymore, and it’s because of the good work that we’ve been doing since we became the government in 2018 to start to lower costs for the people of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, as a former Minister of Economic Development, one of the things that I heard when I was first in that role was, “Why are the electricity costs so high in Ontario?” Because of the good work that we’ve done since 2018 to reduce electricity costs and put together a number of different programs that I’ll talk about in the supplementary, including the Ontario Electricity Rebate, we are now competitive with other jurisdictions for foreign direct investment in our province, and our economy is booming.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again to the minister: Notwithstanding that glowing review of his own performance, people are hard pressed. You said you would cut electricity bills by 12% in the last election. You haven’t done that. You haven’t taken the action necessary to deliver on your own government’s climate plan.

As you’re well aware, the world continues to experience catastrophic climate impacts. This week, people were literally swept to their death off roads in BC by mudslides. Yet Ontario has fallen behind on the energy-efficiency measures it needs to reduce those carbon pollution emissions, which would also reduce people’s energy bills. And we all know people are hard pressed today. The minister’s policies are ignoring his own government’s climate plan.

Why won’t the minister help people cut their energy bills, go beyond his Green Button program and help them protect all of us from the climate crisis?

Hon. Todd Smith: Thank you very much to the member opposite. I would like to thank the member for acknowledging Green Button. It’s one of the programs that we just brought in last month. It’s going to require all of our local distribution companies across the province to implement Green Button, which is going to allow energy consumers to take control of their own electricity and natural gas bills and save up to 18%. That’s one of the great programs we brought in. The Ontario Electricity Rebate is giving most residential customers across the province a savings of 17% on their electricity bill.

I know when we were both energy critics it was real easy to stand up every day and ask a million questions of the failed energy policies of the previous Liberal government. But if we had continued on the same trajectory that Steven Del Duca and the Liberals had us on, our electricity rates would be going up 7% every year. That’s completely unacceptable. We won’t go down that road again—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

The next question.