Take action on Bill 44, Manitoba

UPDATE: The Manitoba government has announced a new legislative session beginning on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. The proposed Bill 44 has been abandoned.

About the formerly proposed Bill 44

During times of national and global crisis, we look to our governments to support the most vulnerable and look for solutions that work for all people. Unfortunately, Premier Pallister’s government is doing just the opposite with Bill 44.

After recalling the Manitoba legislature to address the COVID-19 crisis, the Manitoba government has put forward legislation that has nothing to do with public health and everything to do with corporate interest.

Bill 44, The Public Utilities Ratepayer Protection and Regulatory Reform Act, decimates impartial public oversight around rate setting through the removal of the Public Utilities Board (PUB), eliminates public hearings and removes ways for the public to give input into decisions that will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable Manitobans.

Do you remember when thousands of Manitobans gave feedback to the PUB around a proposed rate increase on electricity in 2017? Because of the PUB and community input, we avoided a sharp rate increase for our electricity bills. If Bill 44 is passed, next time Manitoba Hydro tries to hike rates, there won’t be any way to push back.

As we continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and work to address the ongoing climate crisis, the government is trying to push through a bill that would negatively impact Manitobans already struggling with job loss, income loss and wellness. This is unconscionable. And it seems like the government knows this bill won’t be popular – the urgency with which the government is pushing ahead with Bill 44 suggests  it is hoping to get this through without alerting the public.

Luckily, organizations like the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba, the Consumer’s Association of Canada, Manitoba Eco-Network, and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition have been raising the alarm and encouraging Manitobans to take action.

For further updates and calls to action, follow the Winnipeg Chapter of the Council of Canadians on Facebook.

Now is the time to act and ensure that government decisions benefit people, rather than the profits of corporations like Manitoba Hydro.