All options should be publicly debated
St. John’s, August 19, 2019 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is asking for an all-party committee to be established on rate mitigation associated with the Muskrat Falls project. CFIB wrote Premier Dwight Ball with the request, highlighting there is a large amount of uncertainty with the provincial government’s rate mitigation plan and an all-party committee of the province’s elected officials would be beneficial.
“Among other issues, increasing electricity rates is a huge issue facing Newfoundland and Labrador at this time,” said Vaughn Hammond, director of provincial affairs in Newfoundland and Labrador. “Despite the ongoing work of the Muskrat Falls Inquiry and the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, the decisions on electricity rates resulting from Muskrat Falls will be made by a small group of people, the provincial Cabinet.”
The regulatory and legislative framework currently provides Cabinet the authority to set electricity rates and the PUB is not allowed to provide oversight, especially as it relates to Muskrat Falls generation. Further, it is becoming clear the provincial government’s rate mitigation plan will be inadequate to keep electricity rates stable and it is unknown what the federal government’s involvement will be. Moreover, expert testimony at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry raises doubt that keeping electricity rates low is the best option if one considers the cost implications of tax increases. The costs of the Muskrat Falls project have to be paid, but what needs to be answered is how the ratepayer and taxpayer share the burden and what the effects on the finances and economy of the province would be.
“More and more small business owners are beginning to focus on what the Muskrat Falls project will mean for them in the future, however, all they have witnessed recently is political games,” added Hammond. “Mitigating rates are an option to keep life more affordable in the province, but it is not known whether it is the best option. An all-party committee should be able to lead a real debate on all the options to ensure the best outcome for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”
For media inquiries or interviews, please contact:
Vaughn Hammond, Director of Provincial Affairs, CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region, including 2,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.