Toronto Star Readers offer to help Peggy Mills, but that doesn’t end crisis for people in rural communities
Toronto Star readers responding to yesterday’s story offered to help Peggy Mills (See here)
Jack Puttick of Markham (one of many people who contacted the Star) was prompted to send Mills a cheque out of anger that Hydro One was sending her new appliances at the same time it was cutting off her power.
“I’m no millionaire and I don’t like the fact my hydro rates continue to climb like all my fellow Ontarians, but we have to do something,” he said. “To hear people are deciding whether to buy groceries or pay their utilities breaks my heart.”
There is broad empathy for people in Ontario who don’t have enough money to put food in the budget and it is important to harness this support to push for systemic change.
Peggy Mills was astonished by the kindness of Star readers but knows it’s a bigger issue than just her “I think it’s wonderful. But what about all the other people who need help?”
Community worker Jane Kali of North Hastings Community Trust who has been helping Mills is also worried about the hundreds of other residents in the rugged rural area southeast of Algonquin Park who are in arrears and risk losing their power.
“Two more people are being disconnected this week,” Kali said. “The help for Peggy is awesome. But this is a systemic problem that we need to tackle for everyone.”
Bancroft’s only social housing complex switched from a faulty oil-heating system to electric service about seven years ago when hydro costs were low. But now low-income families and seniors living there are paying more for hydro than rent, she said.
“Under equalized billing, the average tenant is paying $350 a month for hydro. These are people on Ontario Works and ODSP,” Kali said, referring to the province’s welfare program for able-bodied and disabled people.
Peggy Mills and community worker Jane Kali were interviewed on CBC Radio program Ontario Morning today and made three urgent requests of Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault
- Come to Bancroft and hold a public meeting and hear from area residents about their concerns with hydro rates
- Declare a moratorium on disconnections until a better solution is found to high energy rates in rural areas
- Develop a sustainable strategy for hydro for rural Ontario
It is important for Glenn Thibeault the Minister of Energy to go to Bancroft and other rural communities because he appears to be ‘in the dark’ over the number of low income Ontarians struggling with their hydro bills.
Thibeault He says he ‘wouldn’t call it a crisis’. Peggy, and the Toronto Star readers who responded to her know its a crisis when high hydro bills means you can’t put food in the budget. (See here.)
But Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault can say “I’m still not using the word crisis” because it’s not a crisis for him! It is the responsibility of all of us who care that outrageous hydro rates make it impossible for people in rural communities to put food in the budget to create a political crisis for Glenn Thibeault.
“Over the past ten years, hydro rates in Ontario have skyrocketed. On average, the price consumers pay for electricity has more than doubled. For rural customers, the majority of which are served by Hydro One, steep delivery chargers and distribution fees have made these increases even more significant – with some households paying in excess of $1,000 a month for hydro.
“While I’m still not using the word crisis,” said Thibeault. “I know it’s important. For one family if it’s a hundred bucks out of their own pocket that’s a crisis for them and I get that.”
Support Peggy Mills and the hundreds of thousands of people in rural Ontario struggling with outrageous hydro bills. Send this letter to Glenn Thibeault here:
Please also make a donation here to support our campaign to put food in the budget.