Today the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) called on the Ontario government to provide a full accounting of how $11.7 million in taxpayer money that was spent on consultants and advertising for the Ontario Electricity Support Program.

The program is designed to subsidize hydro bills for certain low income households. However, the Ontario Public Accounts reveal that almost no money was spent on the actual relief for consumers, and that 98 per cent of the program budget was spent on consultants, publications, media and advertising. In total, the government spent $9.3 million on consultants, and $2.4 million on advertising, media and publication.

“The public deserves a full accounting of how the money was spent, and what value taxpayers got for that $9.3 million in consulting fees,” said CTF Ontario Director, Christine Van Geyn. “This program wasn’t exactly re-inventing the wheel. The government has all kinds of tax credits and benefits it provides to different groups, so they should know by now how to design a rebate program without having to spend millions on expensive consultants. That money would have been better spent dealing with the underlying issues that are causing our hydro rates to climb higher and higher,” continued Van Geyn.  

The $2.4 million on advertising included radio ads, newspaper ads, posters on public transit, as well as inserts in electricity bills.

“It’s obvious that the most effective way to inform people about a rebate program would be to include details of the program directly in people’s bills. The fact that the government wanted to spend millions on general publicity shows that this program was really more about generating positive publicity for the government than it was about actual relief for consumers,” continued Van Geyn.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has recently launched a campaign aimed at engaging the public and empowering citizens to take action about high hydro rates and the impending new tax on home heating fuels and gasoline. More information is available at .

“While the government spends millions of taxpayer money on ads and consultants, the consumers they’re claiming to help continue to see their hydro bills go up and up. The latest revelation shows a disturbing depth of cynicism. If the government truly cared about helping low income consumers, they’d fix the underlying problems in the electricity sector and scrap their new planned tax on home heating fuels instead of advertising a program that has essentially done nothing to help consumers,” Van Geyn concluded.