Winter is coming and as Manitobans know, with the cold weather comes increased hydro usage. Manitobans - northerners in particular – have felt the nearly 10 per cent hydro increase this government has put into place over the past four years. Once again, this government has decided to increase hydro rates, this time by 2.9 per cent. The major difference is that this increase comes in the midst of a pandemic that has resulted in thousands of Manitobans being laid off and without stable income.
To make matters worse, First Nations communities will be seeing an increase more like 9.4 per cent due to a court decision that recently got rid of First Nations hydro rates and retroactively increased them by 6.5 per cent. This will translate into around an additional $20 a month or $240 per year. This is an unacceptable increase, especially during a pandemic.
The provincial government knows that increasing rates is unpopular and not in Manitobans’ best interests. That’s why instead of getting the Public Utilities Board – which only approves rate increases they feel are warranted – to approve the rate increase, they did so through a bill, which they passed.
These additional costs are just another weight for Manitobans to carry as this government has failed to provide Manitobans and their businesses with virtually any financial support. In fact, they’ve continued with their health cuts and austerity agenda throughout the pandemic. For some, the hydro increase may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
As well, with Manitoba’s test positivity rate over 13 per cent and our healthcare system at a breaking point, now is not the time for the province to ramp up operations at Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask site. Allowing Hydro to bring in additional workers when the outbreak at Keeyask is ongoing is irresponsible and puts families and communities at risk. Once again, the government is putting the bottom line ahead of Manitobans' health and security. The province needs to get a handle on contact tracing, work with First Nations and Northern communities, and ensure the outbreak at Keeyask is over before ramping up operations at the site.
Manitobans deserve a government that will do everything they can to keep them safe and to make life affordable. Unfortunately, this government does not seem to be on the same page, unlike myself and the NDP. We will continue fighting against this government’s austerity agenda and pushing for improvements for Manitobans.
Feel free to contact me with any concerns at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 204-677-2744.