Families paying for Wynne’s hydro failures: Auditor’s report shows families being let down on hydro, health care, housing and more

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QUEEN’S PARK – Kathleen Wynne has allowed private power companies to rip off Ontario families to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s scathing 2017 Annual Report, released Wednesday.

“From the privatization of power generation by the Conservatives to the sell-off of Hydro One by Kathleen Wynne, the system is now set up to turn everyday Ontario families into a cash cow for private energy corporations,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “I think Ontarians will be disgusted to see how many millions of dollars extra they’re are paying for electricity.”

Among the auditor’s findings: IESO programs are paying gas and coal generators $30 million more than necessary each year. One program encourages inefficiency that cost families and businesses $19 million over just one summer. Nine generators collected $260 million they’re not entitled to, more than a third of which was never recovered. These costs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Horwath and the NDP have released a plan to reverse this damage and substantially reduce hydro bills by bringing the electricity system back into public hands, starting with Hydro One. Conservative Patrick Brown recently announced that his party is now on board with Wynne’s hydro schemes – his platform says he would make no changes if elected.

PATIENTS LET DOWN

Lysyk’s report also paints a picture of Ontario patients being let down by Kathleen Wynne.

The Liberals’ privatization of hospitals – so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s – are diverting dollars out of hospital operating budgets, away from patient care. Instead, that money is paying for higher-than-reasonable rates for privatized maintenance costs not covered by the original deal.

And the overpayments continue when it comes to drugs. By failing to negotiate better prices on generic medications, the auditor found the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is paying 85 per cent more than some Ontario hospitals.

Horwath has introduced a complete phARmacare plan – one that will provide drug coverage for every Ontarian, regardless of age, income or job status.

FAMILIES WHO NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING LET DOWN

The auditor’s annual report also points out that for the first time, the number of people on the wait list for affordable housing exceeds the number of people actually in affordable housing – and 83,000 existing units are at risk of being mothballed.

Kathleen Wynne has refused to fund the province’s share of repairs to affordable housing units. Horwath has promised that if she takes office, the province will fulfill its commitment to a one-third share of funding for affordable and social housing repairs.

WHILE LETTING FAMILIES DOWN, GOVERNMENT SPENDS ON ITS RE-ELECTION BID

According to the Auditor, Kathleen Wynne spent a record $58 million on government advertising – at least one-third of which was on blatantly partisan re-election ads. In 2015, the Wynne Liberals loosened government advertising rules, eliminating the Auditor General’s authority to block partisan ad spending.

“Instead of doing what’s right when it comes to hydro, health care and the services we all count on, Kathleen Wynne is trying to hold on to the premier’s office by spending public money to promote herself and her Liberal party,” said Horwath. “That’s exactly the kind of tactic that has caused millions of people to decide that it’s time for change, and that Wynne has got to go.

“But the question now is: what comes next? Patrick Brown has vowed to cut $6.1 billion in jobs and services. Jobs, nurses, health care services and resources in our children’s classrooms are all at risk with Patrick Brown’s Conservatives.

“It’s time for a plan that gives families hope that it’s going to get easier. A plan to improve services instead of cutting them. A plan to make life more affordable instead of hiking hydro bills. That’s what I’m promising to do, and I’m proud of our plan to make life better for everyday families.”