Over 1,900 signatures on Island petition calling for Hydro One not to be sold

PROVIDENCE BAY—A Spring Bay woman who has circulated a petition across Manitoulin Island calling for the Ontario government not to sell off the assets of Hydro One and take action to reduce hydro rates is very pleased with the response she received. Tanya Giles shared a booth with Kathy Whipple of ‘Hydro One Not For Sale’ at the Providence Bay Agriculture Fair this past weekend. The two ladies presented the signed petitions to Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha.

The lineups were long at their booth at the Providence Bay Fair. “I have a total of 1,958 people having signed my petition which includes about 225 signatures from people at the Fair,” Ms. Giles told the Recorder this past Sunday. “We did really well, and there were a lot of ‘Hydro One Not for Sale’ ‘Say No to Privatization’ buttons around the fairgrounds.”

The petitions were all presented to Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, on Friday evening.

“Kathy (Whipple) and I hooked up on email,” Ms. Giles told the Recorder. Her petition, as reported previously, calls for opposition of the sale of Hydro One, to stop the selloff and privatization of Hydro One, stop further rate increases (which includes delivery fees), stop the practice of billing rural customers for line loss charges, and reverse the ill-conceived decision to install smart metres without passing on the expense for replacing equipment to customers.

Ms. Whipple pointed out she has had a booth set up, “at quite a few fairs in the North this summer. We want Hydro One to remain in government hands.” 

“There is tons of support out there, and people coming forward everywhere with horror stories of their hydro costs and how much it has affected them,” said Ms. Whipple. “And along with individuals, there is a lots of support from small businesses.” 

“I know of at least one local business that has been here 35 years, and is facing more financial hardship now than ever before because of hydro costs,” said Ms. Giles.

Local resident Edith Trepanier, who is 89-years-old and is on a small pension, explained she had to move out of her previous home to a smaller place because of the high hydro costs she had been paying. “I put myself on a budget and I still couldn’t keep up because of the hydro costs. So I moved because of this to a smaller place. I used to turn off the hot water tank on Monday morning at the box, as well as my heaters except for one base heater. And I wouldn’t turn anything on unless I needed to.”

“I was getting hydro bills that were $500, $600, $700 a month each, and of this $300 might actually be my costs for hydro use;  the rest would be made up of mostly of delivery costs,” continued Ms. Trepanier. “My husband has been gone for 14 years. I don’t have the same amount of Canada pension that he had. It’s been pretty tough. I’m hoping that living in my new place my hydro bills will be half of  what I have been paying.”

Mr. Mantha said that as for the petitions he was presented with, “I will be reading them out as soon as we get back (to Queen’s Park) in September. Hydro One is a huge issue and many, many people have concerns with the government selling it off and the huge increases people have seen in their bills. One of the things Andrea Horwath (NDP leader) announced at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) annual conference last week is upholding our party’s commitment that we will take the HST off Hydro of eight percent if we are elected in the next election. That will save people between $40-$50 and allow people to put more food in the cupboard.”

“The government has made a wayward decision to continue to sell off Hydro One,” stated Mr. Mantha. “You don’t sell the biggest revenue maker you have.” He pointed out, “well over 75 percent of the people in Ontario have indicated to the government they are not in favour of the sell off and privatization of Hydro One.”