Energy Poverty is a direct serious harm to health that has resulted from Ontario’s energy policies. Poverty determines your level of health. Not being able to pay your hydro bill is an adverse health outcome resulting from the pursuit of renewable energy projects without careful consideration of benefits and costs. The Green Energy Act and rates paid for renewable energy (wind & solar) generated electricity has fueled the crisis of soaring hydro rates. There is a growing fury among those who can no longer bear such political agendas. The pressure is building. People are demanding Government serve people, not only the interests of the “green” industries.
A rally against oppressive hydro bills attracted at least 100 protesters in front of city hall, and enough supportive horn honking on Main Street to sometimes drown-out speakers assailing Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government.
Most notable were those mobilized enough by the issue to get downtown by 5 p.m. and who have never publicly protested anything before.
Home electricity bills have skyrocketed in the last five years: off-peak prices have increased 47 per cent, and on-peak prices have increased 67 per cent.
That’s why Lori Balkom took part in her first protest, holding a sign standing close enough to the road to feel the breeze from cars driving by honking.
“My last bill was $850,” she said. “Last summer it was $500 … There are people out there who can’t afford food because of (their hydro bills). It’s not right.”
Her sisters Debbie Leblanc and Patti Glenn joined her. Leblanc lives in a building for seniors, and said at least one woman couldn’t afford to turn on air conditioning this summer and had to hang out in a mall instead.
Jeff Coe happened upon the protest while out for a walk and was swept up in it and signed a petition.
“I’m all for conservation, I conserve my kilowatt hours, but the bill keeps going up,” he said. “So that’s why I’m here, too.”
The focus of the rally was Wynne: signs called on her to resign, and labelled her government “corrupt or stupid.” The most popular read: “Keep hydro public,” a reference to calls for Wynne to reverse the privatization of Hydro One, the province’s electricity transmission monopoly.
Politicians from the provincial Progressive Conservatives and NDP spoke, but the rally’s organizer, Sarah Warry-Poljanski, was the focal point, dressed in work boots, bright orange hydro worker-style coveralls, and white hard hat.
“With the cost of hydro we are all suffering … seniors and pensioners, people working two or more jobs just to get by,” she shouted into the microphone. “This is unacceptable … The (government) needs to stop serving themselves, and serving us.”