This morning, Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller questioned the Premier directly on the plight facing local small businesses when it comes to hydro rates.
Using the example of Muskoka Meats in Gravenhurst, Miller highlighted the immense burden that small rural business face under Ontario’s uncompetitive hydro system. Muskoka Meats owner Dave Purdon is struggling to replenish his stock after being forced to launch a half-price sale of frozen meats on Facebook in order to pay his hydro bill and keep his business running.
Miller was one of many MPPs to raise the issue of soaring hydro rates in the house today. However he stressed the unfortunate extremes that some small businesses, like Muskoka Meats, have to go to in order to pay their electricity bills.
Premier Kathleen Wynne directed the question to the Minister of Energy, Mr. Glenn Thibeault, who referenced the 8% rebate that came into effect on January 1st. Though he did go on to state that there is more that needs to be done and that the rebate is not enough for the many small businesses across the province that face similar challenges to Muskoka Meats. See the exchange below:
Norm Miller: “Mr. Speaker, I’d first like to point out the Minister of Energy said we voted against Bill 27. We actually supported Bill 27.
My question is to the Premier. Speaker, Muskoka Meats and 100 Mile Store is a small business in my riding. It’s just the kind of business you’d like to see succeed in Ontario. They promote high-quality local food. I, myself, can attest to the quality of the delicious Ontario lamb they sell.
Unfortunately, the owner Dave Purdon is struggling to replenish his stock after being forced to launch a half-price sale of frozen meats on Facebook in order to pay his hydro bill and keep his business running.
As a butcher, Dave knows that his freezers require substantial electricity to run. However, when faced with a $1,700 hydro bill and a $5,000 security deposit, he had no option but to sell his quality products at a loss.
Speaker, will the Premier explain how she expects small rural businesses like Dave’s to succeed and prosper while paying Ontario’s outrageous hydro rates?”
Hon. Glenn Thibeault: “I thank the honourable member for the question. The important thing for us, as the government, to recognize is—you know what, Mr. Speaker, we put forward a few programs to actually help small businesses, and they’re actually seeing help when they know about those programs, so we’re going to continue to promote those programs and make sure that those businesses can actually find out that information and save those dollars, because I do hope that the honourable member let that company know about many of those programs.
But as the Premier has said quite a few times, Mr. Speaker, we’ve come forward with programs. We’ve had that 8% reduction that’s just been in place since January 1. That 8% reduction applies to all retail price plan customers, which includes farms, which includes small businesses and includes residents. That 8% is coming off the bill, but we know we need to do more. We’ll continue to work hard at that and we’ll make sure that we find other ways to help those businesses.”
This was the first Question Period of 2017 as the Ontario Legislature returned from the winter recess.