April 3, 2012 - No. 30
Discussion of Ontario Budget 2012
Reject the Budget! No to Irrationality!
All Out for the Ontario Day of
Saturday, April 21 -- 3:00-5:00 pm
• Reject the Budget! No to Irrationality!
• The Interests the McGuinty Liberals
• Vesting Ourselves with Decision-Making
by Setting Our Own Agendas and Working to Realize Them Is Crucial
- Dan Cerri
• Shameful Attack on the Poor -
• Ontario Charts a Course in the Wrong
Direction for Education - Christine Nugent
• Budget Opposes Investment in Education
• Education Organizations Speak Out Against
• Full Weight of Society Must Be Put Behind
Just Demands and Cause of City Workers - David Greig
Big Score for
Privatized Nuclear Energy Infrastructure
• Ontario Launches $33 Billion Nuclear Power
Program - Jim Nugent
Discussion of Ontario Budget 2012
Reject the Budget! No to Irrationality!
How is it possible for the workers and people of Ontario
to discuss the Ontario 2012 Budget when the whole premise
on which it is based is irrational? The very idea that the path to
economic stability and prosperity is to take $17.7 billion out of the
economy over the next 3 years is irrational!
It can only make matters worse.
Ontario is in crisis. It calls for real solutions, not
more of the same failed economics imposed upon society by governments
at the disposal of the monopolies. Ontario
lost 14,500 full-time jobs in January alone. The government covers this
up when it says that 7,000 new part-time
jobs were also created in January. It suggests the net loss is thus
only 7,500 jobs not
14,500 but this calculation is also irrational. How do you offset
the loss of full-time jobs with precarious part-time jobs?
Official unemployment in January stood at 8.1 per cent.
The trend continued in February with another 5,400 full time jobs lost
and 40,000 people who simply stopped looking for work. Unemployment
youth aged 15-24 climbed above 17 per cent.
One third of all Ontario's children are living below the
official poverty line. People living on Ontario Works earn 60 per cent
now than in 1995 and this government announces a freeze on social
assistance or disability pensions to people whose incomes are
insufficient to both pay rent and buy food. This is not only mean, it
"Everyone must do their part!," McGuinty says.
the response of the rich from Queen's Park. But it only applies to the
interests of the rich, not the people. When it comes to the people's
interests, then the mantra is, "The deficit must be
eliminated. Debt obligations must be respected." "Take it out of the
hides of the workers and people. Reduce salaries and pensions of health
care workers, teachers and education support workers,
public service employees and the broader public sector."
The McGuinty government remains silent about the record
profits Canadian banks are reaping. No recovery problem there! The
issue remains, how is
taking another $17.7 billion out of the economy to further line the
pockets of a wealthy minority at the expense of society and the vast
majority of its members going to turn things
around? For whom is it going to turn things around?
To cover all their bases, the McGuinty Liberals say it
is now up to "business" to make investment decisions that will drive
the economy out of the crisis. And what business decisions would those
be exactly? Xstrata's decision to close and destroy the Kidd Creek
Metallurgical facilities in Timmins; or the U.S.
Steel decision to ship steel to Canada from the U.S. rather than return
Hilton works in Hamilton to full production; or Caterpillar's decision
to close operations in London and take the technology back to non-union
plants in the U.S.? Why do McGuinty and the media not look at the
business decisions which have
already been taken in recent years and tell us who benefitted. More
do the media and those called economic experts not trace the
investments which are said to bring prosperity?
is supposed to make decisions in the public interest not defend
monopoly right! The future the McGuinty Liberals have charted for
Ontario is one where the rich continue to get richer while the poor
increase in numbers and get poorer. We defy the Opposition in the
bring down this government for its refusal to act in the public
interest. We call on the workers and people of Ontario to look at the
future this budget has in store for society and say No!
Reject the Budget! No to Irrationality!
The Interests the McGuinty Liberals Represent
Premier Dalton McGuinty suggests that he represents the
interests of all by claiming that the budget protects health care,
education and jobs while at the same time paying down the deficit and
debt. But two days after tabling the provincial Budget 2012, the
Premier rose in the Legislature and said:
"I have quotes here endorsing our budget from the Royal
Bank of Canada, from TD Bank, from Scotiabank, from the Dominion Bond
Rating Service, from BMO Nesbitt Burns, from the Ontario Chamber of
Commerce, from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, from
the Certified Management Accountants
of Ontario, from the Ontario General Contractors Association, and a
host of others."
The interests these organizations represent are
certainly not the same as the public interest of the working people of
Ontario who face a serious jobs crisis, wage freezes,
underfunding of education, deteriorating conditions in their health
care, cuts to benefits for the most vulnerable, theft of pensions
and a decreasing standard of living.
But it is no wonder that the only ones content with this
budget are the banks and other private financial institutions. The
Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) said the following:
"The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) welcomes the
acknowledgement in today's Ontario budget of the key role of the
banking sector in the long term economic growth of the province. As
noted in the budget, Ontario's financial services sector is a world
leader that provides thousands of jobs and drives
significant economic activity. In addition, the CBA commends the
government's continued commitment of moving to a competitive tax
structure for businesses and individuals."
For their part, unions representing various sectors of
economy have rejected the austerity measures in the 2012 Ontario Budget
delivered March 27.
The Ontario Federation of Labour has called for an
Ontario Day of Action, April 21, from 3 - 5 pm at Queen's Park to Demand Prosperity, Not
Austerity! Ontario Political
Forum calls on
everyone to get into action and go all out for the success of the
Ontario Day of Action.
Vesting Ourselves with Decision-Making Power by Setting
Our Own Agendas and
Working to Realize Them Is Crucial
The atmosphere created in
Ontario and Canada by
governments in the service of the rich reveals a relentless attack on
the rights and social consciousness of people who seek to participate
in determining the direction of their society. The recent provincial
and federal budgets, for example, reflect that people have
no say in determining the economic necessities as they see fit for
themselves and society. The same phenomenon of being shut out of the
decision-making process exists in the workplaces, schools and
communities. The current conditions negate the fact that we now live in
a modern society that has the potential to
be planned in such a way that it serves our well-being.
The control of society is
being taken away from people who exercise no control over the
decision-making power but at the same time they must deal with
society and its problems. This is particularly true for all workers
that produce the wealth and provide services. Workers in different
manufacturing industries such as auto, steel, mining
and transportation know all too well the necessity to determine their
working lives to plan their own future but also how they contribute to
the development of their communities. Likewise, public sector workers
such as those in education have to deal with social problems like
poverty and drug use in addition to their
primary responsibilities as educators of future generations.
All workers are dealing
with the fact that they must
solve the problems around them. What is lacking is their ability to set
the agendas to solve these problems in both their immediate
surroundings and for society. Workers have to look into how they can
gain decision-making power so that people who deal with
social problems can do so in constructive and supported ways.
The necessity to develop organized discussion among
one's peers at the workplaces, schools and communities, and to look
into solving problems in their interests, is becoming clearer every
day. Such work will serve to resist the anarchy of current
decision-making power as people will develop their own independent
outlook and guide to action.
Shameful Attack on the Poor
The 2012 Ontario Budget includes several measures that
in the name of deficit reduction will make the situation for Ontario's
poorest people and low-wage workers much worse. These measures show
again that the government does not accept any responsibility for
guaranteeing people even a minimum standard
of life, considering this instead as a matter of fiscal or political
The budget announced that
Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario
Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefit rates for people unable to
work or unable to find work will be frozen at their current levels,
which is $599 per month for a single person on OW and $1,064 for a
single person on ODSP. When the rising
costs of food and other necessities is taken into account, this will
mean a reduction of 2.9 per cent in the already inadequate living
standards for the 900,000 people in the families receiving these
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan
tried to differentiate his budget measures from those taken by Harris
in 1995 when social assistance rates were cut by 22 percent. Duncan
said the Conservatives "balanced their budgets on the backs of those
who need assistance." However, with only two
small increases since taking office, the McGuinty government has
allowed inflation to reduce the benefit rates another 33 per cent since
the Harris cuts.
As well as freezing benefit rates, several important
support programs for OW benefit recipients are being cut in the budget,
including emergency housing supports and support for medical and
funeral costs. This will result in another $30 million a year in
reduced social spending. Specialized employment services
aimed at helping people receiving OW find a job or enter the workforce
also face unspecified cuts.
It was also announced that the scheduled increase in the
Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) paid to all low-income families with
children will also be postponed for a year. Postponing OCB increases
will affect over 600,000 poor families with children, including
families of 480,000 workers employed at low-wage jobs.
The expected reduction in government spending from postponing the
scheduled OCB increase is $90 million.
Workers in low-wage jobs will also be affected as the
minimum wage will be frozen at $10.25/hour for another year. At the
time of the 2011 budget, the minimum wage was frozen for a year in the
name of what the government called "striking a balance between a fair
wage and our businesses' need for stability
and certainty." A review was promised by the Minister of Labour before
the 2012 budget but no action has been taken. When inflation is taken
into account, the minimum wage freeze for 2011 and 2012 amounts to an
$80/month reduction for a worker receiving minimum wage on a 40-hour
Not including the effect of freezing the minimum wage,
the government's deficit reduction measures on OW, ODSP and OCB will
remove an estimated $150 million from the pockets of those unable to
work or working at low wages. This is completely unacceptable. The
claims of those unable to work, the claims
of families for social supports and the claims of all for a decent
livelihood have to be put in first place, ahead of the demands of the
moneylenders for deficit reduction.
While the measures announced by McGuinty will have a big
impact on the lives of the poor, they will have very little impact on
Ontario's $127 billion budget, amounting to only 0.1 per cent of the
budget and only 0.9 per cent of the deficit. This raises the question
of why the McGuinty government is going
after the most vulnerable, especially when it makes a mockery of the
government's claim to be committed to poverty reduction. As well, why
did McGuinty go out of his way to draw public attention to these social
assistance cuts by announcing them in media interviews two days before
McGuinty's squeezing of the poor in the name of
fiscal crisis has a political aim. It will be used in attempts to
justify the austerity budget's broad attack on all the working class in
Ontario, using the spin "Look, even the poorest of the poor are making
sacrifices for the sake of deficit fighting! You should
be prepared to make sacrifices too." Despite its rhetoric about poverty
reduction, the government is quite prepared to sacrifice the livelihood
of the poor for fiscal policy. It is also prepared to use the poor as
convenient pawns in the political game where the interests of one
section of the people is driven down and
then the demand is made that others reduce their expectations in the
name of "equity" and "fairness."
The working class has complete contempt for the
austerity agenda that the financial oligarchy is trying to impose on
society and for the neoliberal political games of the bankrupt
politicians serving it. To undermine the resistance of the working
class, these politicians attempt to establish "equity" based living
below Canadian standards. A Canadian standard of living needs to be
guaranteed for all, as a right not as a matter of fiscal or political
Ontario Charts a Course in the Wrong Direction
The Ontario government
under the McGuinty Liberals
announced changes to the education system in
Ontario in the March 27 budget which will adversely affect
universities, colleges, elementary
and secondary schooling in Ontario. The teachers and education workers
who deliver these public services, students
and their families are assessing the effects of the proposed changes
and are discussing how they should look at these developments and what
they should do about it.
The discussion promoted by the political parties and
some media outlets promote the austere direction of the economy through
this budget as a necessity due to the financial crisis the province
finds itself in and all political parties agreed in the last provincial
election there would be a need to "balance the budget"
The public view that politicians want the working class
in Ontario to have is that the spending has to stop, that the debt and
deficit are at crisis proportions and that this crisis has to be solved
by everyone tightening their belts and abandoning their rights to
programs and services.
The threat that is held over the people of Ontario is
that the province will become another Greece.
The politicians and media are promoting the legitimacy
of the credit rating agencies that they hold to high regard as gods who
are the legitimate body that must be convinced that Ontario is not a
risk for investment by corporations and financial speculators. So
determined are they to promote this that the federal
finance minister rushed to Ontario the day after he delivered the
Federal budget to announce on CBC that," "This is a serious problem,
when a large government in Canada is not trusted by the rating agencies
around the world."
A recent study done by Ontario Political Forum
exposes these credit agencies (see Ontario
December 21, 2011 - No. 18). It states:
"The real criminals here are the likes of Standard and
Poor's, Moody's and other agencies of the rich who certified the
creditworthiness of the useless paper-backed assets American banks were
flogging, which precipitated the 2008 financial crisis in the first
place. In 1993 Standard and Poor's downgraded Ontario's
AAA rating to AA to force the Bob Rae government to get with the
program of the anti-social offensive, which he did to his everlasting
infamy. Creditors have been reaping the rewards of that downgrade ever
since. Throughout the Mike Harris and McGuinty years the financiers
never restored Ontario's AAA credit
rating. Why isn't the Minister responsible for Ontario's finances
demanding compensation or even jail sentences for Standard and Poor's
and their ilk for their crimes against society!"
The government in this budget has set the stage to
attract all kinds of speculators to gratify their need to offset
declining rates of
profit. They are doing this on the backs of public services and the
workers that deliver them. It must not pass!
Budget Opposes Investment in Education
The budget calls for the merging of the school boards
but provides no details. School boards will not be receiving the
necessary funding required to meet the needs of the education system.
This has already come to light as the Toronto District School Board
meets to decide job cuts and other austerity measures.
The special board meeting where trustees are called on to vote no to
these measures was postponed and will now take place April 4.
Since the 1998-99 fiscal year the government of Ontario
lowered education property taxes. Although in this budget they have
frozen the decline until the years 2017-18, the government is committed
to continuing this direction at that time despite the effect on school
boards and the services they provide. They
have stated that they will not reverse these cuts.
The budget reports state that the highest Business
Education Tax (BET) rates have already been cut by more than 50 per
cent, while average BET rates have been cut by 28 per cent. The Ontario
Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) in their review of the 2012-1013
Ontario Budget dispels the view that the sky is
falling when one looks at the deficit relative to the size of the
Their report states: "Fifteen billion dollars sounds
big, but compared to what? Any government's ability to pay depends on
the size of its economy. Viewed in that way, $15.3 billion is about 2.4
per cent of the province's economy. To put that in context, Ontario's
deficit was worse than that for five years in a
row from 1991-92 to 1995-96 as the chart below shows. If the
government's goal is simply to balance the Budget, it seems obvious
that this can be done without the severe cuts..."
The blueprint for the austerity measures affecting
public services and public service workers was prepared for the
government by the Commission to Reform Public Services chaired by
former TD Bank Senior Vice President Don Drummond who recommended
serious cuts to all public services including attacks
on teachers and education workers and students. They have been creating
an atmosphere that there is no alternative. The role of the Drummond
along with the media hysteria, was to get the people to debate what
should or should not be cut. Cut all-day kindergarten or teacher sick
days. Lay-off early childhood educators
or increase class sizes and cut teachers. Contract out education
workers, close down schools, freeze wages and the list goes on.
To dispel the myth that Ontario has a spending problem,
OPSEU's report shows that Ontario's spending per person is the lowest
province in Canada.
Ontario's education system
continues to have the lowest
per student funding of all the provinces. The colleges continue to be
run with over 55 per cent part-time faculty and support staff with no
unions who have been on a two-year wage freeze along with all other
non-union public sector workers. This budget
does nothing to redeem those wages due to their corrosion from the cost
The budget states, "While the length of individual
collective agreements may vary, restraining public-sector compensation
costs for the full five years of the plan is critical to balancing the
It is not clear whether those workers who have endured
two years of wage freeze are to face the same conditions in years to
The discussion to have now is how to resolve the crisis
in favour of the working people, not the rich.
It begins by saying no to these cuts, no to wage
freezes, no to attacks on collective bargaining rights, pensions and
It begins by demanding that governments Stop Paying the
Rich and Increase investments in social programs.
It begins by organizing teachers and education
workers to take decision-making power in their own right.
Say No to this budget!
Education Organizations Speak Out
Against Liberal Budget
Unions representing education workers have pledged to
fight for the interests of the teachers, students and people of Ontario
by demanding more funding for education and other social programs. They
are demanding that the McGuinty
Liberals uphold their social responsibility to Ontarians.
Ken Coran, President of the Ontario Secondary School
Teachers Federation, stated that the budget disrespects
teachers and threatens the "open dialogue and progress in education" of
the last eight years. Coran stated: "We have seen that imposing
legislation upon workers, and not negotiating with them
in good faith, leads only to further discontent and distrust" and calls
on the government to respect the bargaining process and the rights of
the teachers and other workers.
Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers'
Federation of Ontario notes: "Whether you're working or not, or
whether you're unionized or not, ordinary Ontarians are being asked to
take a hit that many economists say is not necessary." He called for
increased investments in social programs
and denounced "cuts to vital public services built with our tax dollars
being used to pay for a deficit that working people did not create" and
"the loss of thousands of good jobs through cuts and privatization
initiatives in infrastructure, health services, and Service Ontario."
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty
Association (OCUFA) notes that despite the Ministry of Training,
Colleges and Universities' (MTCU) assertion that the budget will
increase operating grants to universities by an average of 1.1 per cent
over the next three years, there will be an actual decrease
in funding for universities of 2.0 per cent for 2012-13 and 2014-15
respectively, when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) inflation is factored
in. According to the OCUFA, "Even if one accepts the government's
assertion that it is providing funding for enrolment growth, the
constant-dollar value of per-student funding
will decline by 5 per cent over the same period." The OCUFA states that
the only way to ensure high quality and affordable higher education in
our province is to increase operating grants and invest in the future
success of Ontario. In real terms, per student operating funding from
the province has been in decline
since 2008-09. With this budget plan, the cumulative reduction in
per-student funding by 2014-15 will be 16 per cent.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
President Kevin O'Dwyer also spoke out against the McGuinty
government's actions. He said: "continuing to deal with bargaining
issues and threatening legislative action in the media is detrimental
to the constructive dialogue that is needed at this
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) which
represents public service, college and other educational workers
denounced the attacks on the wages and working conditions of education
sector workers and other workers in the budget, pointing out amongst
others things that the Ontario Public Service
has 14 per cent fewer workers now than in 1995. It notes that in
2010, the McGuinty government enacted legislation to freeze the pay of
all non-unionized provincial employees for two years. In bargaining
with unionized workers, the government took a hard line, forcing many,
although not all, to accept a wage
freeze (which is really an annual pay cut equal to the rate of
inflation). In the 2012 budget, of the $17.7 billion the government
wants to save over the next three years, a full $6 billion of it is to
come from "compensation restraint for school boards, payments to
physicians and public servants." A further $6.8 billion
is to come from cost-cutting across the broader public sector, costs
that are certainly attached to wages and jobs. OPSEU further denounced
the high-handed and hypocritical stand of Finance Minister Dwight
Duncan who, while piously stating that the government "respects the
collective bargaining process," went
so far as to say that the "Supreme Court of Canada requires it," then
added that the Liberals are "prepared to propose the necessary
administrative and legislative measures to protect the public from
service disruptions" -- meaning taking away the workers' right to
strike in order to fight for their rights and demands.
OPSEU also noted that the budget contains provisions for
the Liberal government to legislatively "pool investment
management function." The pension plans of college and university
workers are going to be attacked and concessions demanded that would
reduce the pension benefits of these workers,
creating insecurity for them as they approach the end of their working
lives. "OPSEU will be fully engaged in any and all pension discussions,
and will work to mobilize members to ensure that their interests are
safeguarded as we continue to work for retirement security for all
working people..." said the union.
Toronto Municipal Services
Full Weight of Society Must Be Put Behind the Just
Demands and Cause of City Workers
As March 2012 draws to a
close in Toronto, three of the four units of the
more than 20,000 inside workers represented by CUPE Local 79 have new
collective agreements and the
fourth unit -- long-term care workers designated as essential -- is
headed to arbitration. The 2,400 Public Library workers of CUPE Local
4948 have approved a contract, ending an 11-day strike, while in
mid-February, the about 6,000 outside workers of CUPE Local 416
likewise accepted a new contract. Early in 2011,
thousands of TTC transit workers were subjected to provincial
legislation and the imposition of a contract. Only contracts for some
smaller units, the Toronto Community Housing workers of CUPE Local 416
for instance, remain to be realized.
The main collective agreements for the thousands of city
have officially been settled and largely cover the period to the end of
2015. This took place in the wake of the Ford regime's drive to impose
terms in line with its anti-social agenda rather than to negotiate
putting in first place the well-being of
the city, its residents and the workers who provide the services and
programs. Most blatantly, the city administration threatened to
unilaterally impose its terms on both the inside and outside workers,
and in the case of the transit workers, instigated back-to-work
legislation in collaboration with the McGuinty provincial government.
The city workers resisted the Ford regime's effort to
to them over the months of negotiations and, in the case of the Public
Library workers, that culminated in an eleven day strike. Their
resistance did limit to an extent the regime's drive for concessions to
gut previous guarantees and protections.
As an organized force, these workers continue to confront the city
administration and the retrograde forces at other levels of government
standing behind it. But significant concessions were made, with regard
to job security, among other things.
The new contracts bear the imprint of the anti-social,
aims of the forces in power in Toronto, Ontario and Canada. The
situation shows that the resistance of the workers and struggle for
modern social infrastructure that serves the needs of society is
crucial and that it must be taken further so as to
renew the society so that it upholds public right not monopoly right.
The workers' defence organizations and all those involved in this fight
must demand that services be kept under public control.
Far from privatizing, they must expand the public sector
to meet all
the claims upon it of an increasingly diverse population and ever
greater social responsibilities. All Ontarians must fight so that the
full weight of society is put behind the just cause and demands of city
workers! Stem the tide of the anti-social
Big Score for Privatized Nuclear Energy
Ontario Launches $33 Billion Nuclear Power Program
On March 1, the first
contract was signed launching the
Ontario government's $33 billion program for refurbishing existing
nuclear power plants and building new nuclear reactors by 2030. The
Ministry of Energy's 20-year plan calls for continued reliance on
nuclear energy as the base of Ontario's electricity
generation system, with nuclear power plants providing 50 per cent of
total electricity production.
The contract issued was for replacing the cores of four
nuclear reactors at the Darlington Generating Station near Toronto. The
core replacement is expected to cost between $6 billion and $10
billion. The Darlington facility produces 3,512 megawatts of power,
representing about 20 per cent of Ontario's existing
generation capacity. The cores of the Darlington reactors have reached
the end of their safe working life.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the government owned
power production corporation, signed the contract with SNC Lavalin
Group and Aecon Construction which formed a joint venture for the
project. Lavalin is an aggressive international engineering monopoly
based in Montreal. Aecon, based in Edmonton
and Toronto, is the largest publicly traded construction company in
Canada and specializes in government infrastructure projects.
The Darlington project will be done in two stages, with
the first running from 2013-16 and the second from 2016-23. The
contractors will receive $600 million for the first phase and an
undisclosed amount for the second. The first phase is building a
mock-up of a reactor and developing tools, knowledge and
technique for replacing the cores of four reactors. In the second phase
the cores will be replaced one after the other.
Although financial details have not been announced,
Lavalin and Aecon may benefit from private-public partnership (P3)
arrangements for the project. In a press interview just before the
contracts were issued Patrick Lamarre, Lavalin VP for Global Power,
said the project could be structured so Lavalin and Aecon
and their financiers become equity partners in Darlington and sell
electricity to the grid on fixed price contracts.
An Aecon press release said the first phase of the
contract has "both fixed price and cost reimbursable elements" and the
second phase "will be carried out on a cost reimbursable, target price
basis." Lavalin's share price shot up by 5.3 per cent and Aecon's by
4.3 per cent on the day of the contract announcement,
indicating that the international financial oligarchy considers the
contract a sweet deal for the contractors.
The decision of the federal government to hand over the
crown corporation Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) to Lavalin last
year played an important part in Lavalin being in a position to benefit
from this lucrative contract. AECL designed Darlington's CANDU reactors
and in pre-bid qualification was
the only company that could qualify to re-core the reactors. Even
General Electric Nuclear failed to qualify.
For 78 years and through billions of dollars in public
funds, AECL became the repository of Canada's nuclear knowledge and
technique, including technique for refurbishing nuclear reactors. The
sale of AECL allowed Lavalin to capture this technical capacity which
it will use to turn profits in the Darlington
refurbishment. Lavalin paid only $15 million for AECL, a cost more than
offset by $75 million in guarantees the federal government gave Lavalin
as part of the deal.
Besides the technological capacities gained through the
capture of AECL by Lavalin, Aecon and Lavalin have captured vast
technical expertise through work on other nuclear projects and other
large public infrastructure projects. This knowledge and expertise,
gained at public expense, becomes the private property
of these engineering/construction monopolies. This control of knowledge
and technique lets these companies dominate big projects, extract vast
profits and then to extort more as cost overruns.
The high and ever increasing electricity costs users
have to pay are largely the result of construction and engineering
monopolies being able to treat power generation projects, especially
nuclear projects, as personal cash machines. Previous nuclear projects
are responsible for most of the $20 billion Ontario Hydro
debt that became stranded debt when Ontario Hydro was broken up.
This debt from previous nuclear projects shows up as the
Debt Retirement Charge on electricity bills. Stranded debt charges are
also passed on to ratepayers through electricity and distribution
charges. Now another $33 billion is being handed over to the monopolies
in nuclear power engineering, construction and
financing and this too will have to be "retired" on the backs of
There are important public
interests at stake in the
power generation and distribution system, including access to all for
this essential service and sustaining other industrial sectors. The
private interests of the financial oligarchy and its allied
engineering, construction and technical equipment monopolies are
the public interest throughout the system at a rapid pace.
In non-nuclear power generation, privatization is almost
complete, having been pushed through disguised as "green energy
initiatives." The conversion of coal-fired power stations to gas and
building wind and solar generation have all been done by private sector
Eighty-seven non-nuclear power projects with capacity of
over 50MW each have been built or started in Ontario since 1990; all
but two are privately owned. These private generating plants sell power
to the grid through lucrative contracts with Ontario Power Authority.
By 2020 they will be producing 9,300
MW, 25 per cent of Ontario's hydro. Private investors are also breaking
into construction and operation of transmission lines and municipal
With control of nuclear power being further consolidated
by the aggressive nuclear power monopolies and their financiers, soon
the entire electric power system will be at the service of the
international financial oligarchy in extracting wealth from Ontario.
Soon the only role left for government in the power sector
will be to collect fees from electricity users on behalf of the
monopolies and to sign the cheques.
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