One of the most frequent topics raised by constituents right now is their frustration with increases to BC Hydro rates. Before the last election, the BC Liberals promised that BC Hydro rates would not go up, but now that the election has passed, they are raising BC Hydro rates by 28 per cent starting April 1st.
These drastic increases in rates hurt industry, small businesses and families. And these increases are occurring at the same time that government is taking $585 million per year from BC Hydro to bolster general revenue.
Your rates for electricity go up to fund the removal of more and more money by government from BC Hydro. Essentially, this is a tax increase.
Some of the people I talk to about this rate increase are simply not able to pay. Already pushed to the limit, having cut back everywhere that they can, the increase in costs for heat and lights is more than they can bear.
Most of the communities I represent do not have natural gas so a hydro rate increase hits us very hard.
On Thursday, March 27th, the Opposition introduced a private members bill called the Hydro Affordability Act which would give the BC Utilities Commission the ability to set lower rates for families and seniors on fixed incomes if their household income makes it difficult to pay.
This is done in other jurisdictions and it would help British Columbians who are struggling with hydro fees already.
Unfortunately, private members bills are rarely passed by government, meaning this is another idea to make life more affordable for British Columbians that will likely be ignored.
If you would like to share your story about how increasing BC Hydro rates are affecting you or your family, go to www.bcndpcaucus.ca/recklessrates.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-866-870-4188, or visit www.Norm Macdonald.ca.