TORONTO – The Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne needs to stop the “senseless” privatization of Hydro One while the province’s electricity transmission utility is still in one piece, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
“Today’s report from the Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) just proves what we’ve been saying all along about the privatization Hydro One,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “Selling shares in Hydro One will not raise money for government. This privatization will cost money, and that’s all there is to it.”
In his first report ever, FAO Stephen LeClair found that the province would lose money by selling shares in Hydro One under every scenario he examined, adding to the province’s debt. “[N]et debt would eventually increase as the costs of forgone revenues from Hydro One begin to exceed the initial benefits of the tax gain and net sale proceeds,” he said.
“Premier Wynne’s entire public rationale for privatizing Hydro One has been that she needs to raise money for public infrastructure without taking on more debt,” OPSEU’s Thomas said. “But the fact is, privatization will add to the public debt and strip Ontarians of a money-making strategic asset at the same time.
“I have seen governments make some bad decisions in my time, but this a rip-off to end all rip-offs.”
LeClair’s report echoes a December 2014 report from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, Thomas said. In that report, Lysyk calculated that Ontarians had paid $8 billion too much after the government privatized the management and financing of 74 major infrastructure projects.
“The transfer of wealth from public hands to private investors through privatization is the defining policy of this Liberal government,” Thomas said. “What we are seeing with Hydro One is nothing short of a robbery in progress.”
The Financial Accountability Officer was created at the insistence of the New Democratic Party during negotiations around the 2013 provincial budget.