5 Things To Know Today
Report on Hydro One sell-off and liquor law revamp due out today. Future of Gardiner east: tearing down some or all of expressway. Public high school teachers walk away from talks. Ontario auto insurance rates down, but a long way from Liberal target. Internal CBC report on Jian Ghomeshi scandal to be released Thursday. +*Indian PM scheduled to meet business officials and visit Air India memorial.*
Alex Guibord / CC
REPORT ON HYDRO ONE SELL-OFF & LIQUOR LAW REVAMP DUE OUT TODAY
The Wynne Liberals are expected to get a report from privatization guru, Ed Clark today. Residents across the province will learn today which government assets will be sold off. The provincial Liberals are set to sell 60 per cent of a Hydro One transmission service worth $16 billion in order to budget for new transit infrastructure. According to reports, 40 per cent will still be maintained by Ontario and shareholders will become minority owners with 10 per cent. A 10-year, $29 billion plan for infrastructure will include $15 billion for public transit construction in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. It will also call for the spin off of both Hydro One Brampton and Hydro One networks’ distribution arm and they would be sold outright. Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontarians will also learn about the modernized sales of beer and wine in the province. The sale of Hydro One and the expansion of wine and beer sales in large grocery stores will be included in the recommendations that will be released later today.
FUTURE OF GARDINER EAST: TEARING DOWN SOME OR ALL OF EXPRESSWAY
No decision has been made yet but a staff report suggests that maintaining the aging Gardiner expressway as is would be so expensive it makes little economic sense. That would leave the city with two remaining options. Either tear down the expressway east of Jarvis at a cost of $461 million or a hybrid option that would maintain a link between the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway. That option is the most expensive and would cost about $919 million. It would cost $864 million to keep the crumbling expressway as-is. Tearing down the Gardiner would add about three to five minutes of travel time during morning rush hour. The first round of public consultations on the Gardiner’s fate are being held this evening at the Toronto Reference Library. Public feedback will be included in a report that will go before the Public Works Committee on May 13 before going to City council June 10.
PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS WALK AWAY FROM TALKS
Contract talks have been suspended between the Ontario Public SchoolBoard Association and the Province. The Toronto chapter of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation says it will only get back to the table when the employer gets serious. They say this time will allow the Liberal Government to re-consider it’s options. Education Minister Liz Sandals says she’s disappointed there’s been a breakdown and is urging a return to the bargaining table. Talks with other unions continue. The Federation has threatened strikes for 7 schools boards, starting with the Durham Board as early as Monday, and Sandals says parents there should be prepared. Sandals says Durham is the only board that’d be in a legal strike position that quickly, although Peel and Halton teachers could be in the same situation within weeks. The Liberal government insists there will be no wage increases until it eliminates a nearly $11 billion deficit.
ONTARIO INSURANCE RATES DOWN, BUT A LONG WAY FROM LIBERAL TARGET
Vehicle insurance rates have dropped by 7% in Ontario in the last year and a half, according to Finance Minister Charles Sousa. Back in the summer of 2013, the Liberal government pledged to cut rates by an average of 15% by this August. Sousa says provisions in a bill which fights fraud and abuse in the vehicle insurance system have kicked in only recently which will help meet that target. But the opposition parties are not convinced the Liberals will meet their target. PC critic Vic Fedeli says a reduction was also promised by the previous minority Liberal government to win NDP support for their budget, but there was never any solid plan as to how it could actually be done. And NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says drivers here pay some of the highest rates in the country. Just last week, a Schulich School of Business study indicated Ontario drivers may have overpaid billions of dollars in insurance costs, estimated around $840 million in 2013 alone.
INTERNAL CBC REPORT ON JIAN GHOMESHI SCANDAL TO BE RELEASED TODAY
An internal report by an independent investigator in the Jian Ghomeshi scandal is expected to be disclosed today. The findings of how the CBC managed the scandal were regulated by labour lawyer Janice Rubin. Former employees who worked with Ghomeshi have been encouraged to come forward with their experiences and complaints. Ghomeshi faces a total of eight charges, including seven counts of sexual assault and one for choking, after several women contacted police with allegations. His lawyer says he will plead not guilty to those charges. Ghomeshi is free on $100,000 bail under a number of conditions and he is due in court on April 28th. Meantime, the CBC will relaunch their radio show Q as “q” on Monday, April 20th and it will be hosted by London, Ontario rapper Shad.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet with local business officials in a round-table meeting in Toronto today and he will also be attending the Air India memorial in Humber Bay Park. Prime Minister Harper greeted the Indian PM at Ricoh Coliseum where thousands were on hand Wednesday night. About 150 demonstrators were protesting outside the building. More protesters are expected to mock Modi over human rights issues and the deal signed between Canada and India in regards to bi-lateral relations. PM Modi will be heading to Vancouver where he’ll be visiting this weekend.