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VIDEO: Wilson Again Questions Government over Sale of Hydro One

(April 15th, 2015) Today, Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson again questioned the government over the sale of Hydro One. You can watch the video or review his remarks in Hansard at the following link.

 

Ontario Hansard
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC ASSETS


Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Two weeks ago, Minister, I raised the issue of debt at the Ontario Electricity Financial Corp. The OEFC has $27 billion in outstanding debt largely paid for by Hydro One revenue, revenue that will be lost if you sell Hydro One. But, Minister, there's a larger problem here than just a loss of revenue. The entire value of Hydro One is already mortgaged to the OEFC. All $16 billion of Hydro One's value has already been claimed by the OEFC to pay down its debt. That's why the law requires that all sale proceeds from any share of Hydro One must go to pay down the electricity debt.
Minister, how can you sell any part of Hydro One given that it is already fully mortgaged?
Hon. Bob Chiarelli: To the Minister of Finance.
Hon. Charles Sousa: The reason that Ontarians are still paying for stranded debt is because of the mess that the PC government put us in. We have been open and transparent in getting—
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister.
Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, we've been very open and transparent about getting it reduced. As a result we have been reducing the stranded debt—
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I'm prepared to get my exercise.
Interjection.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Please finish.
Hon. Charles Sousa: As a result of the work that Ontarians have been doing in getting it reduced, as we have said and as we have outlined every year in our fall economic statement and in our budget, we've detailed how that's being done. We have committed by the end of this year to remove the residual stranded debt fees paid by residential by the end of this year, and so we'll continue. Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Well, again, to the Minister of Energy or whatever minister wants to start telling the truth over there—
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Continue, please.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Again, to the Minister of Energy. Minister, when you sell your house and it's mortgaged...
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The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Withdraw.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Continue, please.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Again, to the Minister of Energy: Minister, when you sell your house and it's mortgaged to the bank, you can't pocket the sale price and refuse to pay off the mortgage. If you did that, you'd be charged with fraud. Any profit from a sale of Hydro One has already been mortgaged. That profit is owed to the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation—Hydro One's banker.
Minister, your government keeps talking about unlocking the value of government assets.
Hon. Michael Coteau: Like the 407.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport.
Mr. Jim Wilson: Will you finally admit that all of the value in Hydro One, the biggest asset you plan on putting on the auction block, is completely mortgaged already to the OEFC? It's already spoken for, Minister.
Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, the leftover of Ontario Hydro is OEFC. What did the PCs leave OEFC? Debt. That's all that has been left over.
As a result, we have been taking steps to remove that debt from the ratepayer. In fact, the approach has been working. Last year, there was about $1.5 billion in further reduction of stranded debt. This is the 10th consecutive year that stranded debt has been reduced ??cumulatively by—
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Carry on, please.
Hon. Charles Sousa: And over the last number of years, it has gone down by $10.8 billion. But Mr. Speaker, the reason stranded debt had even gone up and the residual portion of stranded debt is because they themselves artificially froze the rates because it went up by 30%, which caused the residual stranded debt to go up even higher. We're taking corrective action to make sure that it gets removed from the system.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?
Mr. Jim Wilson: You need a real good briefing on the history of hydro in this province because you don't know what you're talking about.
There was $38 billion. The reason I broke up hydro is that it had $38 billion in debt, Minister, and we couldn't continue to go that way. We got that debt down to a residual stranded debt of $7.8 billion.
Interjection.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Eglinton–Lawrence, come to order. Second time.
Mr. Jim Wilson: I don't know how in the world you guys, over 12 years, brought it back up to $27 billion, but I'm bloody well going to find out one of these days. We've asked the auditor to look into that, and we're going to find out. I suspect a lot of it is your high-priced windmills and your Green Energy Act, which is driving jobs out of the province and prices up.
So Minister, will you finally tell—be honest with the people of Ontario—what are you going to do with the $27 billion in debt? Are you going to leave it for the ratepayers and taxpayers of the future to pay for it? That will mean skyrocketing hydro rates again—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.
Stop the clock.
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Minister.
Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact and I am glad that the member opposite has admitted that he left such a substantial debt at the OEFC as a result of the mess that they put forward.
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Sarnia–Lambton will come to order. I'm going to fast-track the names that I take.
Interjection.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Including anyone interjecting while I'm speaking.
Please finish.
Hon. Charles Sousa: During those days, when the economy was actually prospering, not only they did they try and mess up the hydro deal—
Interjection.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound come to order. Second time.
Hon. Charles Sousa: —they messed up the sale of the 407 and still left a deficit of $5.6 billion in our coffers, which we had to correct since going forward.
Mr. Speaker, the Ontario government—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That's it. Thank you. New question.


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