Libs want to limit public consultation on budget especially on Hydro One, NDP House leader responds

Ontario NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson sent the following letter to Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi.

 

April 28, 2015

Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP

Minister Naqvi:

I write in response to your April 23, 2015 letter outlining your government’s proposal to have the Legislature swiftly pass your 2015 budget bill.

New Democrats agree that the budget process plays a key role in the economic health and overall growth of our Province and, as a result, it is essential for Ontarians to have the opportunity to speak to the proposals in this important piece of legislation. Unfortunately, we were dismayed and disappointed by the incredibly brief timelines your government is proposing to discuss this year’s budget bill, a document that features some of the most significant changes to Ontario’s fiscal policy in over a generation.

At the root of our concerns is the lack of consultation offered by your plan for Committee. We are surprised that your offer fails to set aside any time for the committee to travel to hear from Ontarians outside of Toronto. Despite your claims to the contrary, the decision to only hold hearings at Queen’s Park severely limits the public’s ability to provide meaningful input, even with the teleconferencing and videoconferencing options you have tabled in lieu of bringing this contentious budget to the communities it will directly affect.  Furthermore, we are equally troubled by your efforts to cloak controversial items like the selloff of Hydro One behind dubious claims of “expanded” consultation. 

Ontarians deserve the opportunity through public hearings to have their say on the proposed sale of Hydro One. We ask that these hearings too be held in communities across the province so as to ensure the broadest consultation possible. Given the significant impact that selling Hydro One will have on generations of Ontarians, we believe this is the only correct way to proceed, we would be happy to participate in such hearings throughout the summer recess as required.

New Democrats agree with your assertion that Ontarians need “an ample amount of committee time” for the budget bill. We hope that your government will not use its majority to short circuit the process and arbitrarily limit the public’s chance to review and provide input on the budget’s impact on our Province. Had Ontarians been provided with such an opportunity to review the sale of the 407, perhaps some of our more daunting fiscal challenges could have been avoided.

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss meaningful ways that we can work together to ensure that Ontarians have their say on Bill 91.

As the changes are effective immediately, we ask that the motion to facilitate the revisions be moved as soon as possible.

Respectfully,

GILLES BISSON, MPP

Timmins – James Bay

NDP House Leader

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