Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced hydro costs would be lowered to off-peak rates for small businesses, farmers and individuals and families who are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This announcement came a week after Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario.
“We’re leaving more money in people’s pockets, money that [people] can use to take care of [their] family or strengthen [their] business,” Ford said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Ford said on-peak and mid-peak hydro rates will be eliminated for the next 45 days. Ontarians do not have to sign up or fill out any applications, he said, they will see their savings on the upcoming bills.
Energy Minister Greg Rickford said in a press conference that the Ontario government had to act fast in order to ensure no one’s electricity was disconnected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hydro One announced additional support for its customers. In a press release, the company said late fees for all customers will be temporarily suspended until May 7. In addition, the company unveiled their new pandemic relief fund.
Richard Francella, a spokesperson for Hydro One said the pandemic relief fund was created to help customers who are experiencing financial hardships.
“If a customer is having an issue they can call us at our customer experience centre and we’ll look at each customer’s needs on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Francella said Hydro One wants to ensure their customers know that they are here for them and the company understands the people of Ontario are concentrating on what matters most, which is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.
“We’re making things a little bit easier during some hard times,” Ford said. “And supporting everyone out there who is following the rules and doing their part to stay home.”
Kelley Evans, a mother of three said the new off-peak rates are helpful as her family of five self-quarantines.
“Thankfully my husband and I are both able to work from home during the pandemic, but it’s hard enough keeping up with laundry on a normal week,” Evans said. “Virtually everything we’ve been doing to keep the kids occupied leads to a mess.”
Evans, whose kids are 10, five and four, said she doesn’t want them to be sitting in front of the TV all day. She said they’ve been “painting, baking and colouring. All things that lead to a mess when young kids are involved.”
Being able to throw their dirty clothes into the laundry and not having to wait until the evening to wash their clothes is really helpful, she said.
She also said being a family of five in quarantine means having to run the dishwasher almost every other day.
“Normally we go out for dinner at least once a week and we go to my parents house for dinner every Tuesday, but now we aren’t,” Evans said. “I know it’s only two extra days of dishes but add lunch dishes everyday too and it really adds up.”
She said she appreciates the lowered rates during mid and on-peak hours because it allows her to get everything done during the day so she can spend time with her family in the evening.
“It’s really helpful during this uncertain and scary time, it’s the least hydro companies can do,” Evans said.