High hydro rates for northern and rural families continue to be an issue for Queen’s Park. This time it’s the NDP’s Energy Critic raising red flags. Peter Tabuns says the majority of rural families will not benefit from the Wynne Liberal’s relief fund, and is pushing for a change.

He says according to the United Way, the average hydro debt in Ontario is around $700, but that number spikes to $1,200 in rural areas. Tabuns says the government promised rural rate relief last month, but the majority of families will not benefit from that funding. To break it down, the province has an emergency fund of $1000 for families who live in urban areas. But, the emergency fund for rural and northern families sits at $600. Tabuns says Northerners already pay the highest hydro bills in the province, and is asking why the relief fund is capped at $400 less than what exists for urban areas.

However, the Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault says other options are available. He says there is a $75 monthly rebate seniors can apply for, as well as those who use electricity to heat their homes. Thibeault says that covers the majority of people living in northern and rural areas. He also notes when you add that to the northern Ontario tax rebate program, and the elimination of the debt retirement charge, the province is doing a lot to help families who need it.