Energy Poverty Means Pre-Paying – Report from Parliament, October 2016

This should be no surprise to Ottawa Valley residents who are all too familiar with the close political party relationship between Ottawa and Toronto.

Federal Agency Measurement Canada is preparing to finalize approval for “pre-pay” hydro meters. This was only a matter of time since the province installed so-called “smart meters” in people’s homes.

The announcement by the Federal Government that the designation of “provisional” specification to a “full” specification follows a public mandate letter recently sent by the Toronto Liberal leader to her Minister of Finance bragging about the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) being part of the federal budget.

What I predicted before the last election is now happening. I predicted that all Canadian taxpayers would end up with part of the bill for Ontario Liberals’ policy disasters. It was predictable because the same policy advisers in Queen’s Park, who wrote the “Greed” Energy Act and fled Toronto, are now hiding in Ottawa as the most senior advisers of the federal Liberal Party. The cozy relationship between the Prime Minister and the Ontario premier is bad for all taxpayers, just as I warned Canadians before the last election.

Implied Consent

Pre-payment meters were given provisional approval before the liberal “Greed” Energy and Employment Act had raised electricity prices. Hydro One had not been sold, nor had the “smart meter” electricity scandal cost electricity consumers over a billion dollars. On the basis of no comments or requests from the public or industry back then, the federal government has assumed “implied consent,” which in their way of thinking gives approval to move full speed ahead.

To picture a pre-payment electricity meter, just think of a parking meter that you load with money in order to park a vehicle. These are popular in third-world countries, particularly where poor people have no access to credit. They enable the power utilities to deny access to a basic necessity without actually having to pull the plug if customers have trouble with bills. It forces the poor household to self-disconnect.

Energy poverty, defined as households that spend more than 10 percent of their income on home energy, affects about one million households in Canada. In Ontario, the lowest income group spends on average 12 or more percent of their income on utilities, while the average Ontarian spends only 4 per cent.

Energy poverty is prevalent among certain types of households, including those with single residents, seniors, children or young adults, renters, and those with a female primary bill-payer. Low-income families and individuals are being forced to choose between heating their homes, buying groceries or paying the rent as the result of increasing utility prices. For many, it is literally a choice between eating and heating.

The vast majority of Canada’s seniors (as well as low-income families) live in older houses, with inadequate insulation in attics, walls and basements. For young families just starting out, while these houses may offer cheaper than-average rent or require lower down payments than more efficient homes, their upkeep is costlier, particularly when forced to use electric heat in Ontario.

Climate change policies raise energy costs. As a rule of thumb, the more the increase in fuel poverty, the greater the rhetoric about “climate change”. Canada had been following a smart policy to lower emissions. With the change in Ottawa and no one to moderate the extremists in Toronto, energy poverty is the new norm.

Canadians still have an opportunity to withhold their “implied consent” to poverty meters. While the federal government has set a January 1st 2017 implementation date for its new policy, you are invited to provide me your thoughts on pre-payment electricity meters. Remember, ‘no comment’ is considered by this government to be a “yes.”

The federal government deadline for submissions is October 30, 2016.