With hydro rates in Ontario skyrocketing at twice the national average, Hydro One executives thought they deserved a little bonus. So they gave themselves one.
The board members of Ontario’s hydro company voted themselves a $25,000 raise, the CBC reported Tuesday.
This generous wage boost comes less than a year after the Fraser Institute revealed Ontario’s hydro prices were surging at twice the national average.
Well, there is an Ontario election campaign going on right now and the party leaders and candidates have lots to say about ballooning hydro rates.
Conservative Leader Doug Ford said he would fire the entire board at Hydro One.
“Today in Ontario, we have seniors unable to pay the rent and families being forced to choose between heating and eating, all because of the hydro mess,” Ford said last month.
Then just the other day, Ford said the pay raises the board voted itself were “unacceptable.”
Hydro One executives do. Even Ontario Hydro executives did when the utility was under that name.
And nobody has stepped in yet to end the madness.
Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne said she ordered a review of the Hydro One compensation packages once she found out about them.
“We’ve made it very clear that the compensation package that was brought forward was unacceptable,” Wynne said at a campaign stop in Waterloo, Ont. “So, that is exactly why the review is happening. We forced that review to happen. We made it clear and the review is happening.”
Government officials have been reviewing Ontario’s hydro rates for years and have done nothing about the ballooning salaries of executives. Remember the late Maurice Strong and his exorbitant salaries in the mid-90s?
He eventually cut his pay from $425,000 to $1 a year, but not before much of the damage to hydro rates had been done.
Well, fast forward to today. And while Ford is threatening to fire the entire board at Hydro One, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has a different plan to bring hydro rates under control.
New Democrats would ask the federal government to scrap its five per-cent HST on electricity bills under the 13-page proposal unveiled Monday, ahead of the government’s promised rate-relief package expected soon.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has promised a host of new measures to ease the burden of hydro costs on families and businesses.
“We’re at a tipping point in Ontario and we’ve got to take bold action,” Horwath said, noting hydro prices have doubled in the last decade. She’s vowing to renegotiate or cancel expensive power contracts if feasible.
“Electricity isn’t a luxury. It shouldn’t be priced like one,” she added, faulting Premier Wynne for not acting on the hydro rate file until she ran into “political trouble.”
Is that what these hydro rates and the huge salaries of executives at Hydro One have turned out to be?
You bet they have. And now we have party leaders scurrying around looking for answers.
Premier Wynne thought she solved the problem when she sold off Hydro One.
The Toronto Star has a different opinion. Its headline on a Martin Regg Cohn column says it all: “Selling off Hydro One is Wynne’s biggest blunder as premier: Cohn”
“Privatizing Hydro One ranks as the biggest miscalculation of Kathleen Wynne’s time as premier,” Cohn writes. “It violated fundamental axioms of politics — notably the perils of public opposition and public confusion.”
So where do we go from here?
Premier Wynne has some ideas, NDP Leader Horwath has some ideas and Conservative Leader Doug Ford has even more ideas.
The ideas range from basic to radical, but it’s clear something has to be done.
So which party is selling the right plan? Maybe, we’ll find out on election day.
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