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Rally to keep Hydro One public directs anger at Thibeault

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said she receives more complaints about hydro rates than all other issues combined

Participants in rally Saturday afternoon directed their anger toward Sudbury MPP and Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault as they marched in opposition to the province’s plans to privatize Hydro One.

“Glenn Thibeault just seems to be hiding behind Kathleen Wynne at every opportunity,” said Darryl, Taylor, president of CUPE Local 4705. “He was elected by the people to speak on behalf of the people. Stop being Premier Wynne’s puppet.”

Local union members with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, along with members of the Hydro One Not for Sale campaign, were among the participants in Saturday’s rally and march to Thibeault’s Sudbury office, located at 555 Barrydowne Road.

In November 2015, the province started its divestment of Hydro One shares with an initial public offering that net its coffers more than $5 billion.

The Ontario government raised a total of $1.83 billion from the sale of the first 15 per cent of the utility's shares.

The province gained an additional $2.2 billion from a deferred tax asset benefit and another $1 billion from a special dividend and payments-in-lieu of taxes.

In April, the province sold an additional 15 per cent of Hydro One shares at $23.65 per share for total gross proceeds of approximately $1.7 billion.

The provincial government said the second offering of shares has kept it on track to generate around $9 billion in gross proceeds and other revenue benefits. That would include $4 billion in net revenue gains that will be invested in infrastructure and $5 billion to reduce debt.

The Liberals have said they intend to use the $4 billion in net revenues for infrastructure to help subsidize its plans to invest about $160 billion over 12 years on priority projects such as GO Transit Regional Express Rail, Light Rail Transit projects in communities across Ontario through the Moving Ontario Forward initiative, and natural gas network expansion in rural and northern communities.

Those who oppose the Hydro One selloff argue privatization will speed up the continuing increase of hydro rates across the province.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas participated in Saturday’s rally, and said she receives more complaints from her constituents about hydro rates than all other issues combined.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t have a young family or person on a fixed income coming to see me because they can’t cope and can’t pay their hydro bill anymore,” she said.