Here in the Record/Villager newsroom we recently received a press release informing us that the provincial government is proposing the creation of new regulations which would require our electricity bills to include messages about the Ontario Liberal government’s Fair Hydro Plan (OFHP).
I have no problem getting information included in bills. Sometimes the inserts are even useful, such as the statements in Hydro One bills which compare your electricity use to your neighbours, or news about efficient appliances. However, I have a serious problem with making it the law. I have an even greater problem with making what sounds like it will be essentially a marketing spin being legislated, and paid for from the public purse.
The new regulations being proposed would require invoices to include messaging related to the OFHP and the impacts on bills. Beginning July 1, 2017, so in just over a month, the proposal would require electricity vendors and unit sub-meter providers to say Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan substantially lowers electricity bills for typical residential consumers.
The opposition, naturally, claims this message tells only part of the story, that the statement is not talking about the postponing of debt, meaning it will have to be paid for in the future. Not that any political party can predict the future. In fact, they seem to be particularly bad at it. Nonetheless, the current breaks on electricity, welcome as they are, may drag the provincial economy down later. Now, if they were to cut executive salaries in the power business to reasonable rates, and stop signing stupid contracts, that might be an actual long-term solution.
Instead, they wish to legislate marketing opportunities, at our cost, and in their favour. Nor is this the first time a government has betrayed the principles of public spending this way. The federal Conservatives were blatant in their use of government money to advertise their policies. There are still pieces of Economic Action Plan signs in our area that are being used as scrap lumber. And when the federal Liberals ran for election, criticism of that use of public money was laid on thick. Are we supposed to have forgotten that?
Regardless of what government is doing it, using taxpayers’ dollars for their propaganda, er, marketing, is what should be legislated. As in, made completely illegal.
That would be a truly fair plan.