• By: Dan Donovan

Something is Really, Really Wrong in Ontario

A creeping arrogance and sense of entitlement has seeped its way into the depths of the Government of Ontario. At a fundamental level, they do not seem to understand the value of a taxpayer’s dollar. Ontario is 315 billion dollars in debt, and is paying a billion dollars a month in interest. That is 12 billion a year not going to health care, education or other services. It is more debt, than all Canadian provinces combined. So given that context, you would think the government would be very focused on spending restraint and improving the provinces’ finances. Instead, mismanagement continues. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported last December that Ontarians paid $37 billion more than necessary from 2006 to 2014 on hydro bills, and, said consumers will spend an additional $133 billion by 2032 due to global adjustment electricity fees on hydro bills. She also noted that Ontario’s electricity consumers are being charged for tens of billions of dollars due to overpriced green energy, poor government planning and shoddy service from Hydro One, and that the province’s energy ministry — which is overseeing the sell-off of Hydro One, the provincial electricity transmitter — was a mess. She asserts, “Hydro One’s customers have a power system for which reliability appears to be worsening while costs are increasing”, and said that, “more frequent power outages are happening mostly because assets aren’t being fully maintained.” More troubling, is that Hydro One is currently owed 175 million dollars because 10 percent of its customers can’t afford to pay their hydro bills on time. The government response to this was to set up another program so lower income Ontarians can apply for a hydro subsidy. Of course, more government money will be spent to administrate that system. Let’s not get into how demeaning it is for families to have to go through this process. Ontario’s push to promote wind and solar energy has proven wasteful and unnecessarily costly because the government ignored warnings from the now-defunct Ontario Power Authority, that some power plants (like a biomass-fuelled station near Thunder Bay), were prohibitively expensive. One wonders then, why Ontario Power Generation Chief Executive Tom Mitchell is the highest paid public servant in the province, for a second straight year. He earned $1.6 million in salary and benefits in 2015. In 2014, he was the leader with $1.55 million. Had Mitchell been in the private sector he would have been terminated, not rewarded. It is one thing if the taxes we pay are being used…Responsibly. But, the Wynne government is paying public servants and political hacks salaries and bonuses, that are obscene. They spent 20 million to begin setting up the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), and the “administration corporation”, that was supposed to run it. When they reversed-course and did not precede, they then paid an orgy of severances and bonuses to the people they hired to set it up. Neala Barton, the plan’s senior VP of communications, received $316,819, for less than 3 months’ work. Anne Slivinskas, a lawyer, was paid $341,418, for just three weeks’ work. Brian Gill, the pension plan’s CTO received $414,050, for less than two months’ work. Jennifer Brown, senior VP of operations, got $445,000, for less than three months’ work, and, (finally), CEO Mary Anne Palangio, was remunerated $465,938, for less than three months’ work. The worst: They also hired Saad Rafi and paid him $827,925 for less than three months’ work. Previously, Rafi and other PanAm Executives were paid millions in bonuses for running a taxpayer-funded game of sorts, that went 342 million dollars over budget. Why would any of them get bonuses and why would Rafi be sent from one disaster to another? Closer to home, there is the case of Constables David Weir and Daniel Montsion — who managed to beat to death Abdirahman Abdi (a man of Somalian heritage with mental health issues who was accused of groping customers in a Hintonburg café) — both are regulars on the Ontario Sunshine List. Constable Daniel Montsion made $163,251.09 in 2014 and $158,677.73 in 2015. Both officers are under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit. We deserve much better judgment, training and conduct from our police, especially when we consider what we are paying them. Why are we paying them so much? Something is very, very wrong, in Ontario.