OTTAWA, Sept 12 The Ontario government pledged
on Monday to lower electricity costs for residents of the
Canadian province as it sought to provide balm for an issue that
has become an irritant with voters.
In a speech that outlined the government's priorities as it
attempts to galvanize support about two years into its rule, the
provincial Liberals said they will introduce legislation that
would provide an 8 percent rebate on electricity bills for
consumers and small businesses.
The rebate would effectively remove the province's portion
of sales tax charged to consumers and would go into effect at
the start of next year. The Ontario Liberals hold a majority in
the province's parliament, meaning the legislation would be
virtually guaranteed to pass.
The government estimated that about five million households
and small businesses will be eligible for the rebate, saving the
average household about C$130 ($100) a year.
The Liberals also promised to provide additional relief to
rural residents and to expand its program to encourage large
businesses to reduce energy consumption during peak times.
Rising electricity bills have hurt the Liberals' popularity
with voters. The party lost a by-election earlier this month to
the Conservatives for a Toronto seat that had long been held by
In Monday's speech, the Liberals said that the rising costs
over the past decade have been related to removing coal-fired
generation from the electricity system. But opposition parties
have called on the government to halt the privatization of
utility Hydro One Ltd, which they have said is raising
costs for consumers.
The government also reiterated its promise to balance the
budget in the fiscal year 2017-18.
($1 = $1.3076 Canadian)
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)