Hydro Increases Rates and Freezes Wages While Expecting Tens of Millions More in Profit
Manitoba Hydro’s third quarterly report of 2020 shows the Crown corporation is projecting a net income of $111 million--$64 million more than originally budgeted. Despite this windfall, the PC government has ordered a nearly 3% rate increase and kept wages for Hydro workers frozen for years.
“The PCs have used the pandemic to justify deep cuts and huge rate increases that make life less affordable for regular families. But it turns out Manitoba Hydro will more than double its profit this year,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “It’s proof the PC government is not motivated by keeping life affordable, it’s motivated by an ideological desire to raise rates and privatize.”
In a quarterly report published in December 2020, Manitoba Hydro indicates its budgeted net income for 2020-21 was $47 million, but is now projecting net income to jump to $111 million. Hydro says the huge increase is due to an “ increase in net income [that] was primarily attributable to an increase in extra-provincial sales as a result of new firm dependable sales contracts and higher U.S. opportunity sales volumes”.
In October of 2020 the PC government directed Manitoba Hydro to implement another two-year wage freeze for nearly 2,300 Hydro workers. In a memo to Hydro’s CEO, the province said a wage freeze would provide a “reset” while COVID-19 casts “massive budgetary pressures” on the Crown. Yesterday, Hydro workers sent a 48-hour strike notice to the Crown to protest wage freezes.
In December, just weeks before the quarterly report was released, the PC government ordered a nearly 3% increase in rates for Manitoba families. The increase was hidden within a budget bill and was not approved by the Public Utilities Board. In 2018 the Pallister government requested a nearly 8% rate hike, but was blocked by the PUB.
The report also shows Teshmont Consulting, which was sold off by the PC government, and Manitoba Hydro International, which is being wound down by the government, both pulled in $6 million in profit last year.
“The PC government has politically interfered in Manitoba Hydro to cut and deregulate subsidiaries of Hydro which produce millions in revenue and help to keep rates low for families,” said NDP Hydro Critic Adrien Sala. “They have interfered so much the Auditor General is now investigating their actions. Manitobans deserve better than a government that forces through rate increases and wages freezes.”
The Hydro report can be accessed here.