Open Letter from Lisa Gretzky Windsor West MPP, Regarding Hydro Rates and Arrears
Hon. Glenn Thibeault
Minister of Energy
Hearst Block 4th Floor
900 Bay St., Toronto
ON M7A 2E1
Once again, I am writing on behalf of the thousands of people living in my riding of Windsor West to demand action to reduce Ontario’s ballooning hydro costs. According to a recently released Ontario Energy Board report, over 6,000 people living in Windsor had an outstanding balance on their hydro bills at the end of last year. They just can’t keep up due to skyrocketing costs. This is simply unacceptable.
Minister, all Ontarians are suffering from your government’s endless and excessive hydro rate increases. Residential consumers and small business owners struggle to pay the latest exorbitant bill. Large corporations consider moving production out of the province. And as usual our most vulnerable citizens, seniors and low-income families are hit the hardest.
The Liberal government has had over a decade to get hydro rates in Ontario under control. Unfortunately, each time this issue is raised, the independence of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is used to avoid government responsibility.
This is the same institution that allowed energy prices in this province to increase 9% last year even though families used less electricity. Years of allowing lucrative energy contracts with private companies at guaranteed rates have placed Ontarians in an impossible situation. Even when families go to tremendous lengths to conserve electricity they never see the savings on their utility bill.
Minister, it is clear that the OEB has failed to look out for the best interests of consumers. Frankly, it is time that your government stop using the OEB as a reason not to act. There are steps that you can take to immediately reduce the cost of electricity while working to fix the OEB in the long term.
For instance, removing the HST from hydro will immediately save families 8% percent on their utility bills. This would have saved consumers in Windsor with an outstanding balance last year nearly $90,000. Perhaps even more importantly, it will begin the process of making Ontario’s energy policy work for the people living in this province.
Minister, even you must admit that when Ontario families owe hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid electricity bills there is cause for concern. Prior to 2010 there was no provincial sales tax on hydro. It is time to start bringing energy prices in Ontario under control – and you can start that process immediately by removing the HST from utility bills.
I look forward to your response.
Lisa Gretzky MPP