Hydro Board’s New Mandate Opens Door to Privatization

November 7th, 2018

The Manitoba NDP raised concerns in the House today about several changes to the terms of reference for the Manitoba Hydro Board of Directors.

The Pallister government’s Hydro Board of Directors has quietly issued new terms of reference in August. The new terms include the addition of a provision that would allow the Board to establish a subsidiary to ‘assist in carrying out the Corporation’s mandate’. It does not specify if any subsidiary would be wholly owned by Hydro or if it would be contracted out to a private company.

The Board has also removed provisions which state Manitoba Hydro’s obligation to keep rates affordable for families by exporting power. Hydro will no longer be obligated to produce power in an environmentally sustainable fashion. The new board is no longer beholden to the public interest but is instead held accountable to the Minister of Crown Services.

“The Premier’s new mandate for Hydro has put our Crown jewel on an alarming new path,” said Kinew. “He is opening the door for Hydro’s new board to break up our utility and sell it off piece by piece. That will mean higher electricity bills for families and massive payouts to corporations.”

Last week, the Manitoba NDP raised concerns after the Pallister government hired Jay Grewal to serve as CEO of Manitoba Hydro. Grewal has previously served as a senior executive at B.C Hydro where she helped former Premier Gordon Campbell to systematically break up the Crown utility and sell it off for privatization. She then became a senior executive at a private firm that took over some of Hydro’s services. Premier Campbell has been recruited by the Pallister government to undertake a review of Manitoba Hydro’s capital projects.

“The Premier’s recent actions on the Hydro file are concerning. First he caused chaos and upheaval on the board, then he hired privatization champions to oversee Hydro, and now he has rewritten Hydro’s mandate to open the door to privatization. All while refusing to commit to keeping it public,” said Kinew. “The Premier’s plan for Hydro is getting clearer every day, and it’s going to hit regular families the hardest. We will keep the spotlight on the Premier’s hidden agenda and stand up for Manitobans. ”