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Hydro hike hurts Ontarians

(October 30, 2015) Everyone knows that in the fall and winter we spend a bit more on electricity.

That's because we're running our furnaces and baseboard heaters to keep warm.

But now it's going to cost us more than ever. That's thanks to a hydro rate hike the Ontario Energy Board announced on Oct. 15. The new rate starts Nov. 1.

This means the average customer will pay approximately $53 more each year for hydro – an 8.7 percent hike for on-peak rates.

Now, the Premier and the Energy Minister will dismiss this increase as only a few dollars per month, but the cumulative effect of these rates means average Ontario families will struggle to pay their hydro bills.

In May, ratepayers experienced an average increase of $68 to their annual hydro bill.

Moreover, with the upcoming cancellation of the Clean Energy Benefit in January – which provides a 10 percent reduction on electricity bills – customers will once again see their rates increase.

Quite frankly, these increases are disgusting. Most Ontarians don't get comparable wage increases each year, so where does the government expect people to come up with the money?

By this government's own estimates, the average person's hydro bill will continue to skyrocket for the next decade. This simply isn't acceptable.

Many Ontarians are being forced to choose between turning on the heat and buying food. Others who are slightly better off talk about delaying the use of their furnaces as long as possible.

These hydro rate increases are the result of the Liberal government's mismanagement of the electricity sector.

The government needs to take responsibility for this huge burden on families. The government must consider customers' ability to pay for these hikes.

People frustrated by the cost of hydro contact my constituency offices in Alliston and Collingwood on a regular basis. They are angered by the increases, especially when they see the government wasting money in so many different ways.

The high cost of electricity is also hurting businesses in Ontario and earlier this year the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called on the province to do something. Sadly, we are all still waiting for Premier Wynne to act.

The chamber warns if electricity prices continue to go up, one in 20 businesses in the province expect to close their doors in the next five years.

"If real and meaningful action is not taken to mitigate these increases, businesses will leave the province, jobs will be lost and our economy will suffer," Allan O'Dette, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber, said in a statement.

With an already fragile economy, the last thing Ontario needs is the shuttering of more shops and factories.

The Wynne government needs to do something to address the high cost of electricity in the province. Asking taxpayers to pay more every six months is not a sustainable course of action.

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.


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