Charlene Lovelace received a high profile guest at her east end Sault Ste. Marie home Thursday.
Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP leader, visited Lovelace to hear the homeowner’s concerns with rising hydro costs.
Chatting with Lovelace at her kitchen table, Horwath expressed sympathy for her family’s plight.
“People are doing everything they can to conserve energy, to reduce their consumption, changing their lifestyles, and still its getting more expensive, not less,” Horwath said.
“People are feeling guilty about it, people are feeling like they’re doing something wrong, but it’s not your fault…it’s the government’s fault,” the NDP leader told Lovelace.
“One of the things that we know for sure is that in jurisdictions where there’s more and more privatization of the electricity system (referring to the Wynne government’s sale of Hydro One), the bills go up and up,” Horwath said.
Horwath, who has been travelling across the province to listen to Ontarians’ concerns with hydro costs, thanked Lovelace for coming forward to tell her story.
“It doesn’t matter if you have two incomes, hydro is becoming such a struggle for many people,” Lovelace told reporters.
Lovelace said her household, which consists of herself, her husband and three children, is spending between $300 and $400 a month on hydro.
She has, in the past, had her electricity cut off by the PUC for failure to pay high hydro bills.
“The phone calls (from the PUC) came this year, before they just used to cut you off,” Lovelace said.
“I would like to see times of use change, I don’t think that’s practical. Sometimes you can’t wait until ‘off peak’ to do your laundry.”
Lovelace added she will not cut back on feeding her children in order to heat her home.
“A change of government would help, as well as not selling Hydro One, getting rid of time of use, taking HST off, anything to help people,” Lovelace said.
“No matter what we did (in terms of conserving electricity), it didn’t seem to be working,” Lovelace said, noting that her heating costs have gone down somewhat since she converted her home from electric baseboard heating to natural gas.
“First and foremost, the government has to stop the sell off of Hydro One (and) there should be a permanent removal of the HST on the bills, and that’s not happening,” Horwath told reporters.
“Right now we have a temporary rebate the government has implemented, but there needs to be a permanent removal.”
Horwath also criticized the Wynne government’s cap and trade program, which has caused price increases in oil and natural gas.
“This government didn’t put into place some fundamental fairness pieces to the cap and trade program…they didn’t look at northern Ontario and put some rebates or fairness measures in place for the north.”
Horwath did not go into specifics when asked what measures would be put in place to address cap and trade if the NDP forms the next provincial government in 2018, but said “everything will be on the table.”
Horwath told reporters that while in the Sault, she would also be meeting with local NDP supporters to plan for the coming byelection, in which Saultites will go to the polls to pick a successor to former Sault MPP David Orazietti.
“We want to get somebody up and running as soon as possible (to fly the NDP’s banner in the byelection).”
Horwath also planned to visit community activists and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 members Thursday, and attend a luncheon at the Marconi Club Friday.