Opposition reacts to AG report

(Updated)It turns out Ontario residents are paying billions more than expected for electricity because of a flawed smart meter program. And Ontario’s debt is growing faster than our economy.A scathing report from the Auditor General Tuesday put the energy minister in the spotlight and the opposition wasn’t holding back after hearing the numbers from Bonnie Lysyk’s latest reportThe opposition were in fine form today, saying that the Liberals have been ripping off Ontarians in more ways than one. Like those people who’ve been doing their laundry at midnight to save a couple dollars and those who are looking for improvements in transportation and education, it’s all in the numbers.Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 600 page report confirmed something Ontarians have been wondering for a while. Yes, the smart meter program hasn’t saved you any money.Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk: “Rate payer’s energy bills, the impact of having smart meters has not been met, value for money has not yet been met with the investment of $2-billion.”That investment is one billion dollars more than what it cost to implement the program. The report also says that the energy ministry over-estimated the benefits of the program by about $510-billion over fifteen years.PC finance critic Vic Fedeli: “They did no business plan for smart meters, no business plan for green energy and there’s no transparency.”NDP Leader Andrea Horwath: “It hasn’t reduced consumption, it hasn’t kept people’s bills down, yet the minister is still saying that this morning, that it has achieved its goals, when we know it hasn’t.”Lysyk said that rate payers will pay $50-billion in global adjustment charges from 2006-2015 due to the government over-spending and underselling on electricity.Fedeli: “When I was first here in 2011, the Auditor General then said that there was no business plan done for the green energy act and as a result, watch out, global adjustment will hit $8.1-billion by 2014. What does she announce today, 2014 we’re already at $7.7-billion.”After the facts were released, the Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli stood by his numbers: “The estimation of of total cost of smart meter initiative of $2-billion is overstated. The report highlights issues that are irrelevant to a value of a money audit of smart meters in particular global adjustment and exports.”MPP’s said they were floored by the energy minister’s comments, some recommending that he resign immediately.Interim Tory leader Jim Wilson: “You go to the penalty box, you pay the price, you’ve been ripping off consumers and someone’s head has to fall for it and it should be that gentleman who stood here today and mislead the people of Ontario and mislead you ladies and gentlemen.”Also in the annual report, the Liberals vowed to rid the province of its $12.5-billion deficit by 2017. However, that number pales in comparison to Ontario’s net debt by that exact same year.Lysyk: “Ontario’s net debt for 2017-18 is expected to reach more than $325-billion or $23-thousand for every man, woman and child in the province.”Lysyk says it could get worse if interests rates rise above their already historically low levels.Fedeli: “Because you’re paying 11-billion in interest, it takes away from the very money you should be spending on education, health, transit, infrastructure. That’s exactly what the auditor general said today.”The auditor also touched base on the province’s lack of knowledge on how many people are immunized for diseases like the flu. Child immunization rates are below target and that they have no idea what happened to over 20 percent of vaccines they buy each year.