NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 23, 2017) - Concerned Ontarians gathered tonight by the Falls, a cornerstone of Ontario's public power system to call on Kathleen Wynne to keep hydro in public hands.
NDP MPP (Niagara Falls) and Infrastructure critic Wayne Gates spoke at the rally. "Here in Niagara, we know that public power is our legacy. And we are fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way. Adam Beck pushed to build a system what was publicly owned and affordable, that would grow the economy, create jobs and bring in public revenue. Today Kathleen Wynne is attempting to dump that all down the drain faster than water flows over these Falls. We're here today to say, 'enough's enough,'" said Gates.
"The Liberal government knows they're vulnerable now, and their decision to sell off hydro is the number one reason," said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario and prominent voice in the province-wide Keep Hydro Public Campaign. "They're vulnerable because prices are skyrocketing. And they're vulnerable because we're taking them to court. Hydro One belongs to all of us. We built it, we own it and we did not consent to selling it off."
Both the NDP and Liberals recently released hydro plans aimed at lowering costs to consumers. Only the NDP plan returns ownership of Hydro One to public hands. In addition, the Liberal plan is widely expected to cost Ontarians more via debt refinancing costs.
In September CUPE Ontario launched a lawsuit against the Wynne government for misfeasance in public office, with the goal of protecting the interests of the public owners and ratepayers, and stop any further sale of shares.
"Kathleen Wynne, if you're listening, take note: any further sale of shares before this lawsuit is settled would be immoral and unjustifiable," said Hahn.
The rally coincides with a meeting of CUPE Ontario's Social Service Workers. Sector Chair Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam spoke to rally-goers about the link between public hydro and public services.
"There are over 30,000 CUPE members delivering social services in Ontario," said Poole-Cotnam. "Year after year, we witness the toll that government underfunding takes on these services, on workers and on the very people that we serve. A profit-driven hydro system will only bring more pain to those who rely on the services we provide. We've already seen the effects of higher electricity costs on cash-strapped social services - program closures, less funding for vital projects, cuts to staffing. Social service workers know there's more in store if this Liberal government doesn't reverse its decision to sell Hydro One and return to our province reliable, accountable, and publicly owned hydro."
CUPE is Ontario's community union, with more than 260,000 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.