For Manitobans and my constituents, Manitoba Hydro is our crown jewel. Not only does it provide our province with inexpensive and reliable power, clean hydroelectricity also plays a critical part in our role to combat climate change. Making sure we keep Hydro public and affordable should be a top priority for the government.
Unfortunately, while Manitobans overwhelmingly want to protect Hydro and keep rates low, the Pallister government has other plans. Since 2016, the PCs have interfered with Hydro by attempting to raise rates by as much as almost eight per cent.
Previously, these extreme rate hikes were denied by the Public Utilities Board (PUB), as they would make life unaffordable for Manitobans. However, in order to get around this, the government recently introduced Bill 35 to the Manitoba Legislature — a law that will weaken the PUB by limiting its ability to regulate gas and electricity rates and push the power to set prices directly onto the cabinet table.
First this government hurt our community by cutting our ER and CancerCare and now families in northeast Winnipeg could be forced to pay thousands more on their Hydro bills.
Meanwhile, we also recently learned that Manitoba Hydro International, a profitable subsidiary of Hydro that provides good jobs and brings in revenue to keep rates down, was forced to close its international consulting business due to political interference — a move that’s now being investigated by Manitoba’s auditor general.
This comes at a time when the government’s own documents state that it believes parts of Hydro "should be considered for sale or shutdown," just as when a PC government privatized MTS in the 1990s.
It’s become clear that this government is dead-set on jacking up rates while selling off Hydro piece by piece. Across Concordia, I’ve heard from many families and small businesses concerned about the financial burden this pandemic has forced onto them.
Hiking Hydro rates, privatizing public services, and cutting good jobs will only exacerbate the tough economic hurdles so many are facing.
That’s why myself and our NDP team have remained committed to fighting the PCs’ troubling action on Hydro. We will stand up in the Legislature to delay government bills that weaken the PUB and open the door to breaking up Hydro, and fight to keep rates low and ensure Hydro stays public.
If you’d like to share your thoughts on how higher Hydro rates and privatized services would affect your family, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 204-654-1857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org