Pallister Government’s Handpicked Hydro Board Slashing Jobs, Undermining Economy, Making Life More Expensive

By cutting 900 frontline workers and planning massive rate hikes, the Pallister government’s hand-picked Hydro board is undermining Manitoba’s most important Crown corporation, hurting our economy and making life more expensive for families and businesses, NDP labour critic Tom Lindsey said today.

“Cutting 900 frontline workers – 15 per cent of Hydro’s workforce – is a terrible blow to these individuals, their families and communities across this province,” Lindsey said. “This is a shocking and shortsighted move by the Pallister government's hand-picked board.”

Lindsey said the loss of so many skilled workers puts Hydro’s long-term future in doubt by making it more difficult to finish projects on time and meet export contract deadlines. It will force Hydro to rely more heavily on contract and out of province labour to fill the gaps Pallister is creating. It also adds to the thousands of full-time jobs that have disappeared under the Pallister government’s watch.

Brian Pallister’s Hydro board also revealed it will seek double-digit rate increases for the next five years. This flawed and groundless approach, based on a politically motivated report from an American consulting company, will hurt Manitoba families and increases costs for businesses, Lindsey said.

“Manitoba has among lowest rates in the country – but this advantage is being undermined by Pallister’s Hydro board,” Lindsey said. “Independent reviews by accounting firm KPMG, bond rating service DBRS and the Public Utilities Board have shown that Hydro's existing long-term financial and construction plans were sustainable.”

“DBRS considers Manitoba Hydro to be self-supporting, as it is able to fund its own operations and service debt obligations,” the agency reported in November 2016. “DBRS continues to view Manitoba Hydro as self-supporting, as its earnings and cash flows continue to be sufficient to cover its operating expenses and to service its outstanding debt.”

“Pallister has broken his promise to protect frontline services and to take a balanced approach to the economy,” Lindsey said. “Manitobans should be deeply concerned what other wrongheaded steps Pallister’s hand-picked board has for Hydro.”