Dear Premier Pallister,
Manitoba Hydro is a Crown Corporation and publicly-owned by the Manitoba Government as its shareholder and therefore, as many would contend, it is owned by the People of Manitoba. The Manitoba Government apparently believes, given your statements and actions, and those of your government officials, that it can direct Manitoba Hydro activities.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Manitobans are facing fear and anxiety on how to take care of their families – many have already lost or will soon lose their jobs. Many family breadwinners, as well as small business entrepreneurs responsible for many employees, find it difficult if not impossible to make ends meet.
People will need to make difficult choices on what bills to pay over the next two or three months or longer. They will not be able to pay all their bills. If they pay the hydro bill they may have less food on the table. What is Manitoba, and Manitoba Hydro – owned by all Manito bans – doing to help Manitobans overcome their challenges in these troubling times?
We suggest Manitoba Hydro declare a two-month moratorium on bill payments by domestic residential customers. This is, in effect, a wise and humane investment in our grassroots economy and keeps money in the pockets of our families – renters and homeowners. Those. on social assistance that the province pays the bill directly to Manitoba Hydro can be converted to additional assistance to supplement the income for those families in need.
Working in unison these would have the much-desired effect of both addressing the essential supports and the isolation necessity. This moratorium and conversion represent a small percentage of Manitoba’s GDP and is urgently needed by families to help them through this crisis.
Surely you and your Cabinet can direct Manitoba Hydro to make such the declaration. You must prioritize your legacies during this historic time of economic emergency and compassionate need. Instead of the short-term dream of balancing the budget, your focus must be on the long-term health of our families. This approach suggested in my letter can be seen as a very efficient way to get money into the pockets of families who need it now.
If you have any questions or suggestions concerning this immediately applicable and solid idea, please do not hesitate to contact me immediately.
President David Chartrand Manitoba Metis Federation
cc. Jay Grewal – CEO of Manitoba Hydro
Marina James – Hydro Board Chair