Wynne lowballing cap-and-trade cost

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Since Premier Kathleen Wynne says she is resetting her government with a new session of the legislature, now would be a good time for her to come clean on the cost of carbon pricing to Ontarians.

So far, the only increase in the cost of living the Wynne government has acknowledged under its cap-and-trade scheme is a hike of $156 annually per household, starting Jan. 1, due to higher gasoline and natural gas prices.

That alone will more than wipe out the electricity savings of $130 annually for most Ontario households, also starting Jan. 1, that Wynne announced Monday by removing the 8% Ontario sales tax from electricity bills.

Of course, Ontario’s electricity prices are scheduled to rise Nov. 1, two months before Wynne’s tax relief kicks in, costing Ontarians more money.

But the bigger problem is Wynne’s estimate of $156 per household annually as the public cost of cap-and-trade for gasoline and home heating fuel starting Jan. 1.

Cap-and-trade doesn’t just raise the price of gasoline and natural gas.

It raises the price of all goods and services that consume fossil fuel energy, meaning most of them, as businesses impacted by carbon pricing pass along their increased costs to the public through higher retail prices on goods and services.

The Wynne government estimated — at least before the crash of the California and Quebec cap-and-trade market it’s about to join — that cap-and-trade would increase Ontario government revenues by $1.9 billion annually, starting Jan. 1.

Since the public will pay this extra $1.9 billion in higher retail prices, that means the average Ontario household (there were 4.9 million of them according to the last census) is facing increased costs of $387 annually, 148% more than the Wynne government claims.

By contrast, the Alberta government has acknowledged the total cost to Alberta households of the carbon tax it will introduce next year, which is another form of carbon pricing, involves more than increased costs for gasoline and home heating fuel.

Alberta estimates the total cost increase per household at $408 to $443 annually.

Wynne must tell Ontarians what the real costs of cap-and-trade will be for them.

Toronto Sun, Opinion

Sept 13th 2016

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