Shortly before Ontario’s Liberal government revealed a planned rebate on electricity bills, internal polling shows an overwhelming majority of residents were desperately looking for relief.
The government commissioned polling which has now been made public by The Canadian Press through a freedom-of-information request suggests concern regarding hydro rates was rising among Ontarians in the months before the Liberals promised to take eight per cent off bills.
The survey, which was done in August, found 83 per cent of people considered it “very important” that the government control electricity prices.
An additional 11 per cent felt it was somewhat important and only four per cent said it was “not at all” important.
Less than half of those polled said the government was doing a satisfactory job.
The Liberal government announced in September that it plans to remove the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax (HST) from hydro bills to offset soaring costs for ratepayers.
The government expects that removing the eight per cent provincial share of the HST as of Jan. 1 will result in savings of $130 for the average household each year. Rural ratepayers, who are some of the hardest hit, could receive additional relief, resulting in $540 a year in savings.
Polling done in June and July found an overwhelming majority of residents in Ontario were concerned about the cost of electricity.
Following a byelection loss of a Liberal seat on September 1st, Premier Kathleen Wynne claimed she heard loud and clear from voters that hydro bills were too high and she needed to focus on “helping people with their everyday expenses.”
According to Wynne, the polling had confirmed what the government already knew.
In total, the upcoming rebate legislation will impact the monthly bills of more than five million residential customers in the province and cost upwards of $1 billion annually.
Electricity prices have been a major issue in Ontario lately with the governing Liberals facing increased pressure to provide Ontarians with relief due to rising rates.
The average Ontario household using around 800 kwH monthly has seen the cost of electricity rise by about $30.76 a month since May 2012. Not included in that amount is the 10% increase customers saw when the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit was eliminated in January.