Ontario Extends Hydro Relief Program, Emergency Orders For COVID-19 Crisis

Ontario is keeping electricity rates down for a little longer as the province grapples with its current emergency lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a news release Wednesday, the province says it is extending its electricity rate relief program until May 31. This means Ontarians will be billed all day, seven days a week, at the off-peak rate, which is the lowest price available. 

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The temporary relief measure was put in place March 24, a week after the province declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says its meant to help families, farmers and small businesses who may be taking a financial hit with lockdown measures in place for nearly two months. 

“The extension of this electricity rate relief will leave more money in people’s pockets until businesses can start to reopen and people can get back to work,” Ford said in a statement. 

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Hydroelectricity rates have been a hot-button issue in the province for years as prices have continually climbed over a decade-long period.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Ontario would spend an extra $1.6 billion on stabilizing rates for customers after previously setting aside $4 billion for this effort. The Progressive Conservatives have also promised to keep any future hikes to hydro rates in line with inflation.

Ontario also declared it was extending all emergency measures in place for the COVID-19 pandemic until May 19. However, he’s been hinting at easing restrictions in recent days while tempering expectations by adding the province isn’t out of the woods yet.

Watch: Ontario is “leading the country” in COVID-19 testing, Premier Ford says. Story continues below.

 

This week, Ontario saw a drop in the number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients being treated for COVID-19, which is a positive sign. If this continues, the province could reopen for business in the coming weeks.

“It’s inevitable, if the numbers keep going down,” Ford told reporters Monday in Toronto. “We’re going to get the economy going based on health and science.”

As of Wednesday morning, there are 18,310 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, resulting in 1,361 deaths.

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