The reason given by the McGuinty and Wynne governments for their ambitious (and now seen as economically disastrous) green energy program, instituted without any cost-benefit analysis, is the need for clean air in Ontario.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault was interviewed in his home riding recently, and had this to say in defence of the program, and to boost his party’s record to voters: “There’s lots of positives that are happening that we need to start talking about. Even, for example, when I talk about energy, we don’t [talk] about the fact we haven’t had a smog day in three years. Our air pollution hospitalizations are down by 41 per cent, deaths are down 23 per cent.“
“Deaths down 23 per cent”?
That statement seemed dramatic to me and a few others who regularly analyze and comment on energy in Ontario. So, I queried the Minister in an e-mail about his source of the information.
What I received back was a link to a charity called “Toronto Foundation” and a 265-page report they called “Toronto’s Vital(R.) Report” which contained this statement:
“Premature deaths and hospitalizations as a result of air pollution have dropped by 23% and 41% respectively since 2004.”
The figures Minister Thibeault used during his interview were apparently taken from that line in the report and the referenced link “” to the actual source of the information which was a Toronto Public Health (TPH) report of April 2014.
What it actually said had nothing to do with the Energy Minister’s spin.
Here is that section from the TPH report:
Based on the most current information available, TPH estimates that air pollution in Toronto from all sources currently gives rise to 1,300 premature deaths and 3,550 hospitalizations annually (see Table 1). These estimates include the impact of pollution originating in other parts of Ontario and the United States and represent a decrease of 23% in premature deaths and 41% in hospitalizations as compared with 2004 estimates. Air pollution in Toronto comes mainly from traffic, industrial sources, residential and commercial sources, and off-road mobile sources such as rail, air, and marine sources. Of these sources, traffic has the greatest impact on health, contributing to about 280 premature deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations each year, or about 20% of all premature deaths and 30% of all hospitalizations due to air pollution.
The report contained no reference to the coal plants or their closing as Minister Thibeault’s “energy” inference suggests as the source of either causing premature deaths or hospitalizations!
As Guelph University economics professor Ross McKitrick recently reported, “Turns out Ontario’s painful coal phase-out didn’t help pollution—and Queens Park even knew it wouldn’t”.
It is a very serious matter when the government of the day manipulates public health data to suit its public relations agenda.