Pensioner in rural community left in dark after Hydro pulls plug.
This story, written by Laurie Monsebraaten, is in today’s Toronto Star. (See article here.)
“Peggy Mills doesn’t own a clothes dryer and has given up cable TV and telephone service in her ongoing struggle to repay a $2,500 hydro debt and keep a lid on her ever-rising monthly electricity bills.
She has disconnected her electric stove and is scouring rummage sales for a gas appliance.
And in June, the 74-year-old pensioner applied to Hydro One’s Home Assistance Program to replace her aging refrigerator and freezer with more energy-efficient models to cut costs further.
But days after Mills received word her free new appliances were ready for delivery, Hydro One cut off power to her tiny bungalow in McArthurs Mills, about 25 km east of Bancroft
“One arm of the company gives and the other takes away.”
Not only has Mills lost power, but without electricity to run the pump on her well, she has no water either. So she drives to Bancroft several times a week to fill up five-gallon jugs from public taps. A neighbour has been letting her take baths.
Mike Balkwill (provincial organizer for the Put Food in the budget campaign) visited Bancroft on July 13 to meet with people at North Hastings Community Trust. Staff at NHCT had read the dispatches from the Put Food in the Budget campaign’s tour of northeastern Ontario last summer and invited us to come and visit people in rural communities in the Bancroft area this fall. Mike met with several people to plan the tour which will happen September 22 – 24. Mike was told many stories about high hydro costs and about the fears people have about the privatization of Hydro One. People fear the privatization of Hydro One will drive up costs and lead to more people having their power turned off.
Mike learned that day that Peggy Mills is one of hundreds of low income residents in North Hastings County who are in arrears and at risk of disconnection. North Hastings Community Trust receives five to ten calls a day from people in financial crisis because of their hydro bills. For many people it’s a choice between paying for hydro or paying for food.
Actions you can take to support Peggy Mills and others
- The people we met in Bancroft think we should organize busloads of people from rural communities in Ontario to descend on Queen’s Park. What do you think? Write to us!
- Please make a donation to support our advocacy for Peggy Miller, and others like her who live in rural communities and who don’t have enough money to put food in the budget AND to support our visit to Bancroft and surrounding rural communities in September.