More than 1,400 Ontario households may soon get an unexpected gift: the miracle of alternating current electricity, with which to heat their homes and roast their geese and snuggle up on the couch and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.
It’s Hydro One’s “Winter Relief Program,” under which customers who’ve been cut off for not paying their bills will be reconnected, free of charge, “for the remainder of the winter.” They will be offered “what payment arrangements they can afford” for amounts in arrears and, presumably, for the considerable costs they’ll rack up over the winter.
“This program is about doing the right thing for our customers who are experiencing hardship,” Ferio Pugliese of Hydro One said in a statement. The move follows a Global News report about “Carol,” whose family of six lived for half a year on generators, flashlights and bathwater her husband hauled home in garbage cans from his full-time blue-collar job.
“We drink bottled water. We cook on the BBQ. We boil water so the kids can have showers from shower bags,” she tearfully told a reporter. Carol is a walking, talking political nightmare. Having no power in winter is the sort of thing smug Canadians tend to associate with inner-city America.
But it only makes sense that we’d see it in blue-collar Ontario, where electricity rates have skyrocketed in recent years and are now, depending on the location, among the highest in Canada. The overall consumer price index in Ontario rose 27 per cent over the 13 years of Liberal government; the CPI for electricity rose 96 per cent — 38 per cent just since Premier Kathleen Wynne took office in 2013. No other province comes close.
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