On behalf of Jack Layton, thank you for your passionate and thoughtful email regarding skyrocketing hydro bills. Please know that we share your concerns – electricity is certainly a necessity!
As you have mentioned, hydro falls under provincial jurisdiction and we encourage you to write to your local MNA. You have certainly raised some very important issues regarding Hydro Quebec.
At the federal level, with the parliamentary session well underway, our team is focused on building a real middle-class recovery, pushing the government to uphold its stimulus commitments, make life more affordable for families and seniors, and build a prosperous green economy to spur job growth. You can read more and watch Jack’s speech at this link: http://www.ndp.ca/press/put-middle-class-recovery-before-wedge-politics-layton
Towards these goals, New Democrats are calling on Harper to immediately remove the GST off all home heating fuels (or the federal portion (5%) in jurisdictions with the HST)—before the winter sets in.
Heating prices across the country are skyrocketing to levels that many families just can’t afford. We all know it gets cold in Canada, so charging too much to heat your home is cruel and unfair. Our Better Home Heating Campaign gives Canadians a much-needed break on their everyday expenses. We think this is a practical way to help Canadians that are struggling now.
You will also be interested to know that our plan covers the cost of electric heating. This has been done in Nova Scotia where the government has taken HST off of home heating. The electrical utility calculates the portion of electrical bills attributable to heating in the heating season. No GST will be charged on that portion. You can read more at the following links: http://heatyourhome.ca/ and http://www.ndp.ca/press/give-families-break-on-home-heating
We also want to assure you that New Democrats are working in Parliament on behalf of Canada’s seniors for better pensions, old age security, and home care benefits. Our most recent effort is the introduction of legislation that calls for pension programs to be indexed to the cost of living. We invite you to read the following press release by NDP Seniors and Pensions spokesperson Wayne Marston announcing the introduction of Bill C-564, The Seniors CPI Act here: http://www.ndp.ca/press/new-democrat-calls-for-increased-support-for-seniors
Wayne Marston has also travelled across Canada and had consultations with Canadians on the topic of retirement security. This input is helping us to create a comprehensive retirement-security plan that will benefit all Canadians. To start, we are proposing the following four realistic measures to achieve direct results:
-Increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to end seniors’ poverty
-Strengthening the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan, in consultation with the provinces, with a goal of doubling benefits
-Developing a national pension insurance program, funded by employer pension plans, that will guarantee pensioners up to $2,500/month in the event of bankruptcy and plan failure
-Creating a national facility to adopt workplace pension plans of companies in bankruptcy or in difficulty and keep them operating on a going-concern basis.
Finally, we invite you to check the attached copy of the NDP Seniors Charter of Canada that was passed by all Parties in June of 2006 and NDP MP Wayne Marston’s report highlighting his work on Retirement Income Security on behalf of seniors.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write. Social democracy is the embodiment of caring for one another and a New Democrat government will ensure that all Canadians prosper and no one is left behind.
Office of NDP Leader
From: Arche Mdis[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: October 30, 2010 9:39 PM
To: Prime Minister’s Office; Layton, Jack – M.P.; Ignatieff, Michael – M.P.; email@example.com
Subject: Electricity Is A Necessity Not a Luxury
My name is Arche Mdis and I live in Montreal, Quebec and I would like to remind you that this is a particularly hard time of year for your constituents all across the country with cold setting in, shelter hard to find and getting enough to eat next to impossible to get for some of the more disadvantaged. With all of the government cuts to volunteer organizations providing clothing, meals and shelter I guess it will be even worse of a year this year, if that is possible to conceive. As you get ready to go on your christmas breaks to your fire places and perhaps country homes try to think of the people who are dying on the street maybe ten or 20 minutes from where you live and are eating your christmas dinner.
In the last few years Hydro Quebec has gotten to be a nasty mean-spirited company, which has been the cause of death and hardship for the less fortunate of this province. Hydro Quebec rushes to cut off people in the arrears despite knowing that we are in a hard economic time. Even when people seek to make payments hydro Quebec says all, or we cut you off and they push to do it just before they are no longer allowed in November. They do not care if you need it to keep on life-giving medical equipment, or any other reason they will come and flip that switch to off. I know this is a provincial issue , but we the people without electricity which often means no heat, phone , hot water , or ability to cook a meal do not care; all we want is a chance to get on our feet like you gave big business and the banks. What Hydro Quebec is doing in reality is putting money ahead of human life and because it is a government-owned company and not private it is you government officials that are directly responsible for allowing it to happen.
How many fires are you going to stand by and watch kill countless people trying to keep warm with propane barbecues this winter; that could have been avoided if the people had just been given a chance to pay the bill off with tim?. How many people will die because they can’t use the oxygen machines, or medical alert machines, because hydro refused to deal? How many people will we find dead in the dark, because Hydro Quebec didn’t care? As you eat and sing your christmas carols by the log fire, think of the seniors who have worked all of their lives and now by no fault of their own find their pensions have been gambled away by the companies that they have worked for sitting in the dark eating cat food out of a can freezing to death and enjoy your christmas dinner. String your christmas lights and think of the thousands of people not only in Quebec that will be spending christmas freezing in the dark because you said it was not your responsibility and enjoy your christmas. Hydro Quebec is just one company that you could actually do something about and make people’s lives a little bit easier during this hard time, but you do not and it boggles my brain.
Hydro sold off its maintenance department and formed Hydro Solutions, the price of billing was supposed to stay low; mine started at $7.50 per month and now in a few years is over $20.00 per month. Will I soon be receiving 2 hydro bills per month for the same amount?
I have a blog and people write about being unable to come to an agreement with Hydro that would allow them to work off their bills with payments; Hydro’s answer is always the same; pay it all or get cut off. Even when you pay off your bill Hydro will take their sweet time putting it back on. It was explained to me that just before they are not allowed to cut off the electricity for the winter Hydro concentrates solely on collections and shutting off power. this allows Hydro to maximize the amount of money that can be forced out of the population leaving no technicians available to do reconnecting. As soon as it is legal to start cutting off the power again in the spring although it still may be uncomfortably cold they commit all of their technicians to cutting off power thus duplicating the shortage of the technicians as seen in the late fall.
Ladies and gentleman electricity can no more be considered a luxury it is a necessity and vital to everyone every day life. Without it people suffer and even die. Electricity should be dealt with along the lines of medical care, busses and the mail; everyone should have basic access to it able to pay, or not. If we must pay for it than it must stay reasonable and affordable to the poorest of our citizens and not based on what the middle class and up can afford to pay. It is not fair to raise hydro rate across the board, but put salary freezes and caps on all workers pay cheques. Rents are on the rise, taxes are on the rise and pays are frozen. Banks have gone crazy, jobs are being outsourced and still you deny us enough to live on.
No matter who you say about which level of government is responsible; we at the bottom do not care. When we hear about people setting apartments on fire trying to stay warm, we blame you all. You are sworn to take care of all of us from the richest to the poorest.
I will beg if some one must to get some one to help us, “Please Ladies and gentleman of government do not allow one senseless death to happen because of a power cut off by Hydro Quebec this winter, or because of Hydro’s refusal to make a deal with a customer. Please help us down here, I am begging you. This year could you give us the gift of light please?”