High Hydro Costs are Hurting Waterloo Charities and Non-Profits

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. Last week, during the Kitchener–Waterloo Santa Claus Parade, I learned that the Waterloo Knights of Columbus had gotten a 40% increase in their hydro bills over the course of the year. They are using the same amount of power but they are paying hundreds of dollars more than they paid last year—almost double.

When charities have to keep paying more for privatized power, this means they have less money for helping people. The not-for-profit sector in this province is hurting because of high hydro rates.

What will the Premier do to make sure that charities can use their money to help people instead of being forced to pay profits to private investors on their skyrocketing hydro bills?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Energy.

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: There are many things that we are doing to help not only charities and businesses right across the province, but families. It’s something on this side of the House we’re very proud of.

We’ve ensured that every family, every small business, and charities will get that 8% reduction on their bill come January 1. That’s a significant reduction that charities can actually use and put toward their products.

For five years I ran the United Way in Sudbury and we ensured that we put every dollar into those programs. Great organizations like the Knights of Columbus, like many other charities, like the municipalities, are actually utilizing programs like the Save on Energy program. Saving money, saving energy and reducing our GHGs: That is something we should be proud of on all sides of this House, because we’re keeping money in our pocket and we’re helping our environment.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Again to the Premier: At the beginning of this year, the Premier insulted Ontarians who demanded lower hydro rates, claiming that they were really demanding a return to coal, denying that hydro rates were a crisis in the province of Ontario. Then she insulted their intelligence again by claiming that Ontario’s hydro rates were perfectly reasonable, even as 60,000 families in this province were being cut off because they could no longer afford their hydro bill.

Now, after the insults and the misdirections have failed, she has decided to apologize for hydro rates. But she refuses to change the behaviour of this government.

Instead of empty apologies, will the Premier rein in hydro rates by stopping the further sell-off of Hydro One and put the people of this province first, above their interests?

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: It was this Premier and the previous Minister of Energy who worked with the OEB and gave the OEB the power to ensure that there were no disconnections—10 days’ notice on any disconnections—and that there were resources provided to these families to make sure that they didn’t actually have to have their power cut off.

But what I do find very interesting is, we’ve got a great bill now being brought forward by the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth: Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act. It has a clause that would allow the OEB to ban disconnections during the winter. That begs the question: Will the opposition plan to move unanimous consent to support Bill 27, so we can actually support more families quickly during the winter months?

It’s all talk on that side of the House. There’s never any action, and there’s no plan.