TORONTO – The cost of the governing Liberals’ decision to cancel a gas plant in Oakville is at least $675-million, according to Ontario’s auditor general — a figure far above the $40-million the government originally said.
Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said in her report that figure could swell by another $140-million depending on the increased cost of delivering gas to the new site of the generating station in Napanee.
Lysyk also said he cost of scrapping the Oakville project is “significantly more than may have been necessary” because of a number of what she calls “questionable decisions” by the premier’s office.
The Liberals originally said it would cost $40-million to cancel the Oakville gas plant and move it to the Kingston area – a figure the Ontario Power Authority later estimated at $310-million.
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“At every stage in this saga, the Liberals have scrambled to hide costs, offered bogus estimates and hid the facts. Now we know costs are twenty times higher than their initial estimate. This government wasted Ontarians’ hard-earned money, and they didn’t have the decency to be honest about it,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
The Liberals have dodged releasing the actual figure of gas plant cancellation until now. Premier Kathleen Wynne was briefed on the report by the auditor general Monday at Queen’s Park.
“We finally have the number Kathleen Wynne’s known all along,” said PC MPP Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario PC Energy Critic. “She co-chaired the campaign that cancelled the plant, and signed the document authorizing the cancellation. But she has refused to tell the people of Ontario how much taxpayer money her government spent cancelling gas plants.”
“Wynne’s government deleted emails, misled the people of Ontario, and focused on their political priorities rather than getting this province back to work.”
Premier Wynne said she that as a member of the cabinet under which the cancellation happened, she accepts full responsibility and offers Ontarians an apology.
“As a new Premier leading a new government, I pledge to you that this will not happen under my watch. My new government has the energy and idealism that is the enemy of these kinds of errors,” Wynne said in a statement.
“It won’t happen because my government and my cabinet know that our job is to improve opportunity and security for everyone in Ontario and that requires very careful management of money.”
The report found the premier’s office added $225-million to the total Oakville cost by agreeing to compensate the builder of the plant – even though the contract allowed the province to pull out after 24 months at no cost and no penalty.
An earlier auditor general’s report put the cost of the Mississauga cancellation at $275-million, instead of the $85-million the Liberals had said it cost.
- With reports from The Canadian Press