The new Ford government’s decision to scrap the Green Ontario Fund came suddenly and without much fanfare – and occurred before the new provincial government has sat as the legislative assembly, and with the roles of new MPPs hardly even carved out.
Even still, as the presumptive official opposition party, the NDP didn’t wait long to issue an official statement. And just hours after the abrupt deadline for all Green Ontario Fund contracts to be signed, we caught up with Kingston and the Island’s new MPP Ian Arthur to get his comments on the unanticipated end of the program.
“I think it’s really unfortunate. That was a really good program, and it was going to make life more affordable for a lot of families, the energy savings that it could bring to homes,” Arthur said, noting that the funds available through the Green Ontario Fund program covered a good percentage of renovation costs, making it more affordable to homeowners to hire companies and have work completed that would result in energy savings.
“I think it’s unfortunate because it’s going to actually hurt the ordinary folks of Ontario.”
But it isn’t just homeowners that will be hurt by the Tory government’s decision to end the program, Arthur said.
“It’s also going to hurt businesses. You actually had to apply to be part of the program, so businesses have put a huge amount of resources into applying to be part of that program already,” he said, pointing out that the Green Ontario Fund was only launched last year.
“I know a lot of companies that work in that area, and they were really excited about the prospect of the business that was going to come out of this.”
The decision to discontinue the Green Ontario Program is one that mirrors a number of the decisions and announcements Ford and his party made during the campaign, Arthur said.
“It was announcements that were made without any numbers attached to them, they were kind of immediate… it’s kind of like the Premier Designate is just flying by the seat of his pants a little, to be honest, because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of thought behind any of this,” he said.
“I wonder if it’s the Premier’s Office or if it’s the caucus that voted on this. You really wonder where it’s coming from, because they haven’t been sworn in yet, and we haven’t sat as a legislature… Which, again, speaks to the lack of detail and clarity about what’s actually happening.”
For Kingston and the Islands, a riding known for its many historic buildings, Arthur said the Green Ontario Fund offered a way to reduce two things that can often be quite high for those living in older homes: carbon footprints and the cost of bills.
“A huge part of our environmental footprint is actually the heating and cooling of our homes… Building better homes or retrofitting old homes is really one of the most significant things you can do to lower your environmental footprint. And save money!” he said.
“Fundamentally, this was about saving families money on bills. It was a direct way that we could lower monthly costs of living for families, and that’s gone now.”