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Increased hydro rates make it hard to pay bills

By Rachel Stark [1]

BELLEVILLE – More people in Ontario are struggling to pay their hydro bills and support themselves as rates increase.

Linda Tilson, a small restaurant owner in London, Ont., said hydro bills are making it harder to run her own business.

In the last eight years, Tilson’s hydro bills have increased by $500, and she said she’s now paying around $1,200 per month.

“Hydro bills today are unbelievable, something has to be done, all of us in Ontario are suffering.”

Tilson said the trouble people have trying to feed and clothe their families on minimum wage is sickening.

“It takes a lot of selling food and booze at the restaurant to pay the bills.”

It’s even affecting those trying to run food banks. Susanne Quinlan [2], director of operations at Belleville’s Gleaners Food Bank [3], said as much as they try to help the community, they also have trouble keeping up with their own hydro bills. Quinlan said they try to be energy efficient, with a solar-panelled roof and dimmed lights, but it’s never enough to keep the cost down.

“We do struggle with this, because we have to have freezers and refrigeration to keep everything fresh. A lot of people don’t think about that when they donate to food banks, they think we only need food. We need dollars towards operations as well.”

Quinlan said Gleaners’ hydro bills range from $1,500 to $1,800 per month.

The 2016 Hunger Report [4] by the Ontario Association of Food Banks [5] showed that social assistance doesn’t cover the increase in hydro rates, leading  more people to rely on food banks.

2016 Hunger Report