Anna Thistle, Opposition Finance Critic and MHA for the District of Grand
Falls - Buchans, says the home heating rebate program finally announced this
afternoon by government does not go far enough in addressing the serious
problems caused by high heating prices in the province.
"People in this
province are facing hardship as a result of high energy prices while
government reaps the benefits of hundreds of millions of extra tax and
royalty revenues," said Thistle. "Government announced a program this
afternoon that will do little to lessen the impact on consumers in the
province. There are serious problems with this program that government must
"Government has once again refused to acknowledge the high cost burden
faced by electricity users in the province. Electricity rates have gone up
over the past few years and another increase is likely next year due to the
high cost of oil burned at the Holyrood Generating station. This is not
acceptable and the program must be adjusted to include electricity users.
"The rebate for low and fixed income earners is higher than last year,
but does not account for the huge price increases felt by consumers this
year. Despite government assistance, these individuals will still be forced
to go without food, clothing, medication and other essentials in order to
heat their homes.
"Additionally, the Minister has failed to address the overall cost of
fuel and electricity in the province and the fact that all residents, not
just those on low or fixed income, are feeling the strains of this problem.
Until the HST is removed from heating products, these individuals will not
experience any relief.
"Government has experienced windfall profits of several hundred million
dollars so far this fiscal year due to high energy prices. This program does
not come close to returning a fair percentage of this windfall to the
pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This program is a failure and
must be revisited as we enter very hard times for electricity users and all
people living in this province."