Northern Ontario ratepayer puts Wynne on the hot seat during photo op

TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne was put on the hot seat over her new hydro plan today, not by reporters or opposition politicians, but by a ratepayer from Sturgeon Falls, Ont.

Wynne was making calls to people across the province who had written to her to complain about soaring electricity bills, a day after she announced an average 17-per-cent cut is coming this summer.

She made three of the calls today with journalists in the room for a photo opportunity and while two of the people she called mostly thanked her for the announcement, a woman named Anita had some things to say.

The 17-per-cent reduction is being achieved by spreading some costs over a longer period of time, akin to amortizing a mortgage over 30 years instead of 20, a move that will ultimately cost ratepayers billions of dollars in extra interest.

Anita wanted to know why that was being done and, using the mortgage analogy, said it’s like she will be paying for her house five times over.

Wynne said current ratepayers were footing the whole bill for investments that needed to be made to upgrade the electricity system, and since people in 15 or 20 years will still be making use of those assets, it’s more fair to share the costs.

Anita, who had Wynne on the phone for about 10 minutes, had some parting words of advice for the premier.

“One last thing: see that you get good advisers,” she said. “Like, you say ‘(high hydro bills are) my mistake.’ It’s not only your mistake. You’ve got a team there working and some of those are really bad advisers.”