TORONTO – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is mounting a massive campaign to stop Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plans to privatize Hydro One, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn announced today.
“The Hydro One selloff is a short-sighted plan by the Liberal government that will mean higher electricity bills and a loss of billions in long-term revenue that could be invested in public infrastructure and services,” said Hahn. “But Hydro One isn’t sold yet. There’s time to stop this privatization mistake, and we’ll do everything we can – from mobilizing people across the province to legal action, if necessary – to stop the Liberals from selling off what we’ve built together over more than a century.”
Wynne’s announcement to sell 60 percent of a valuable, revenue-generating public asset to the private sector was not part of the Liberal platform during the last provincial election, Hahn noted.
“Taking Hydro One out of public hands and selling it to the private sector is a betrayal of Ontarians, who overwhelmingly support keeping Hydro public,” he said. “It will mean losing control of this valuable public asset, which has a long history of providing stable, reliable electricity.”
In every jurisdiction where such a privatization scheme has been carried out, electricity bills have gone up.
The Liberals claim they will be able to restrict rate increases, but with only 40 percent of seats on the privatized Hydro One board, the government will have little influence. They claim the Ontario Electricity Board (OEB) will step in and defend the public, but it has yet to ever demonstrate any interest in regulating hydro rates.
“Have you ever seen an OEB decision that lowered your hydro bill? I haven’t. Ontarians already pay some of the highest hydro rates in Canada, and the government is being less than open about the pressure a private-sector Hydro will face to drive up rates and generate profit for its new owners,” said Hahn. “Ontarians know the disastrous record of the Liberal government when it comes to privatizing public services. Their record on energy just doesn’t pass muster. We remember the money wasted on Smart Meters, the multibillion-dollar Samsung deal and the gas plant scandal.”
CUPE members and allies who support public services will be mounting a campaign to make sure the public knows the full cost of Kathleen Wynne’s privatization plan.
On Wednesday, CUPE Ontario and lawyer Steven Shrybman released a legal opinion showing the government’s plans are not only short-sighted, but also will be illegal.
“Let’s be clear, we stopped privatization in 2002, and we’ll stop it again in 2015,” said Hahn. “When the PCs tried it, the Liberals were very vocal in their opposition to selling Hydro One. We truly hope they’ll return to their roots and protect the public good by stopping this sell-off. But if they don’t, we’ll mobilize in every corner of the province and stop it in court if we have to.”
CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.
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