Anyone in Ontario who receives an electricity bill has seen the line 8% Provincial Rebate which appears just above “Total of your electricity charges” and refers to the provincial portion of HST charges.
There are millions of households in Ontario, however, that are not entitled to that rebate. In fact, 3.3 million households* depend on natural gas, oil or propane for heating or cooking are exempt.
Those households are not even told how much the “cap and trade” tax is. The latter is only available should you visit your supplier’s website where they may, or may not, offer you the opportunity to calculate what that tax is. If you do the calculations you discover the cap and trade tax represents about 8.8% of your bill so that, together with the 13% HST (including the 8% provincial portion), total taxes on your heating bill are 21.8%!
What that means: if your annual heating bill is $1,000 you pay $218 in tax but if you heat with electricity for the same annual cost, you only pay 5% or $50.
If the 8% rebate granted to electricity ratepayers was aimed at reducing energy poverty, why weren’t households heating with natural gas, oil or propane accorded the same treatment?
Getting off fossil fuels might help combat climate change, but switching to electric heat the cost would suddenly zoom to well over $2,000! A sure-fire way to reduce emissions while increasing energy poverty.
On December 12, 2017 Ontario’s energy minister responded to a question in the legislature from the leader of the third party about the Fair Hydro Act. He said:
“Again, some of them don’t have a choice between natural gas or electricity, so they’re using electricity. We’re working on that with the Minister of Infrastructure, rolling out a plan to get natural gas to these communities as well.”
More gas means more taxes, doesn’t it?
But I am confused about the direction the government wants us to take. Is climate change now on the back burner as they push to contain the deficit by getting us to pay more taxes by consuming more fossil fuels?
Ironic, isn’t it?
* Based on a StatsCan 2013 report (census of 2011)