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Still feeling affects of Liberal gas plants scandal

cartoon_oct262016The name may not show up on a hydro bill, but it is something many have heard of. If you haven’t, you have certainly felt the effects of it because the global adjustment fee cost Ontarians approximately $1.3 billion in 2015.

Similar to debt retirement and other lines on your bill, the GA is another charge that makes up the final total at the bottom, and like many aspects of your bill, it continues to rise despite your best efforts. Unlike other aspects of your bill however, this one remains hidden, simply included in the usage total.

On paper, the GA fee makes sense. The money collected not only goes to ensure that our power infrastructure is kept renewed and our lights kept on, but those dollars will be key in the years to come in the battle against climate change.

Yet, over the years, additional funds have been culled from the GA fee to cover items that aren’t so bright and shiny on the surface – things such as the two gas plants cancelled by the Liberal government, estimated to have cost $1.1 billion.

So, something has got to give here.

The cost of hydro is becoming such a hot button issue that it seems the provincial government doesn’t want to touch it in fear of getting shocked. Perhaps that’s the reason plans to privatize Hydro One are steamrolling ahead.

One person who isn’t afraid to tackle the issue is Mayor John Henry.

Unlike residential bills, the GA fee shows up front and centre on the city’s bill, seeming to mock the mayor who sees the charge as a ball and chain. It’s estimated to cost the city $3 million in the upcoming year.

For that, our mayor is calling on the province to cut the cord. Henry suggests the province halt the flow of grants to municipalities and stop charging fees for the GA. In that way, the province keeps their money and the city keeps theirs, and those dollars can be applied to the respective governments’ baseline budgets.

This is an idea the province should seriously consider.

It would not only allow Oshawa and other municipalities to put additional revenue into their budgets for city infrastructure – or in Oshawa’s case, used for much needed tax reductions – but it could also stimulate the economy.

By keeping the GA fee off the bills of municipalities, that stops them from taking money out of residents pockets to pay for it. In that way, Joe Citizen may go out for dinner once or twice a week, or spend that money at an Oshawa Generals game.

It’s a small step, but something needs to change because as hydro bills continue to skyrocket, the wallets of Ontarians and the province’s economy are only going to continue to slide in the opposite direction.