Government to raise Hydro rates
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This article was published 30/10/2020 (942 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike, residents of northeast Winnipeg have a lot on their minds.
I’ve heard firsthand from many constituents concerned about their worries for the safety of their children at school, the health of their loved ones in personal care homes and about their many, ongoing concerns about their livelihood and making ends meet. Many are still receiving reduced wages, working fewer hours or have lost their jobs. For many, family budgets are already stretched to the max.
Despite this reality, the provincial government recently revealed its plan to raise Manitoba Hydro rates for all Manitobans. The planned increase of almost three per cent will make life more expensive and is set to take effect in December, just before the holiday season and in the middle of a pandemic — a time when people can least afford to pay.
The increase comes at the direction of the premier and cabinet and will bypass the usual Public Utilities Board process. Under law, any rate increase should first be approved by the PUB, which acts as a check on the government’s interference. In 2018, for example, the PUB saved Manitobans $60 million when it rejected Hydro’s call for a 7.9 per cent rate increase. This move to circumvent the PUB is a preview of the Pallister government’s upcoming legislation, which will permanently weaken the board’s powers by allowing rates set by cabinet to become the norm. That means our Hydro bills could get more expensive and Manitobans would have no say over an increase.
This rate increase comes at a time when Hydro is posting healthy profits. Last year, Hydro profited over $100 million and even projects a $51 million profit this year, during a pandemic. But while Hydro is profitable now, recent government directives are threatening that profitability. Last month, we discovered that Hydro was privatizing its majority stake in Teshmont, a profitable subsidiary of Hydro, and meddling from the government has meant ordering the successful Hydro International to stop seeking new projects.
If you have concerns about affordability in Manitoba, please reach out to my office at 204-654-1857 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Concordia constituency report
Matt Wiebe is the NDP MLA for Concordia.