Sudbury

Ontario's energy minister defends Fair Hydro Plan accounting

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says Ontario's Auditor General may not like the accounting behind the Liberal's Fair Hydro Plan, "but that's the way we've always done this."

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Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says "the province's controller, all of the Ontario public service accountants, all the bureaucrats, KPMG, Ernst and Young and Deloitte — all agree that the plan we put forward is the way we've always done this." (Pierre-Olivier Bernatchez/CBC)

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says Ontario's Auditor General may not like the accounting behind the Liberal's Fair Hydro Plan, "but that's the way we've always done this."

This week, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk released her report on the the Liberal's "Fair Hydro Plan." That plan has reduced the average household electricity bill in the province by 25 per cent.

Lysyk's stated the government is "improperly" accounting for the $26 billion in the debt the province is taking on to cut hydro bills in short term.

That money is being borrowed through Ontario Power Generation, so it won't appear on the province's books. Ontario residents will pay off that debt through electricity rate increases spread out over the next 30 years.

"We worked hard to come up with a plan that reduced bills by 25 per cent," Glenn Thibeault, the MPP for Sudbury and Ontario's energy minister said in an interview Thursday.

"It wasn't just us that agreed with the accounting of this. Our provincial controller, all of the Ontario public service accountants, all the bureaucrats, KPMG, Ernst and Young and Deloitte — all agree that the plan we put forward is the way we've always done this."

But Lysyk says if accounting maneuvers are all that's required for a government to be able to say they've got a balanced budget at the end of the day, "It's a slippery slope … You might as well not have Canadian accounting standards, because governments will be able to choose the bottom line they want."

Lysyk also says the plan could result in Ontarians paying up to $4 billion more than necessary in interest.

Thibeault disagrees with that prediction.

"We know that that number is going to be a lot lower," he said.

"This is an accounting dispute. We're going to continue to work with the auditor general's office. But we have all of our people too saying what we've done meets the public sector accounting standards."

Meanwhile, the Wynne Liberals are also being accused of hiding hydro emails from the auditor.

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