Wynne to review directors’ raises
Premier Kathleen Wynne called raises for Hydro One’s board of directors unacceptable Tuesday, while her rivals slammed the pay hikes as the consequence of the government’s privatization of the utility.
Wynne said her Liberals had ordered a review into compensation at Hydro One upon learning of raises for executives and board members, including a $70,000 raise for the chair of the board and $25,000 raises for other board members. The results of that review, she said, are expected to lead to some changes.
“We’ve made it very clear that the compensation package that was brought forward was unacceptable,” Wynne said at a campaign stop in Waterloo. “So that is exactly why the review is happening. We forced that review to happen. We made it clear and the review is happening.”
Wynne emphasized the review is examining compensation for all board members, not just executive compensation as had been suggested in April. The pay increases have been in effect since January.
The province’s largest electricity transmission and distribution provider, Hydro One was partially privatized in November 2015, with the government saying it planned to use the sale of shares to fund transit and infrastructure projects. By December 2017, the province had sold off 53 per cent of its stake in the company. The partial sale has garnered the Liberals negative headlines, with critics linking the sale to high hydro rates and high executive salaries.
Wynne defended the move. “We made a decision that the deficit of infrastructure building in this province was critical,” she said. “(It) was not going to allow for the economic growth that we needed. So the change in ownership of Hydro One was part of that ...”
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford reiterated his promise to fire Hydro One’s board of directors and the CEO — who would receive at least $10.7 million in severance — and predicted he’ll have no trouble finding replacements.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has promised to restore the company to public ownership if she forms government after the June 7 election.
At a rally in London, Horwath said the pay hikes at the utility underscore the need for her plan. “It’s obvious that Hydro One should not be in private hands because the decisions that are being made there are being made in the interests of private shareholders and/or private board members,” she said. “It shows that they are completely out of touch with the people of Ontario, that they don’t care, they don’t have to be in touch with the people of Ontario, because they’re not accountable to the people of Ontario.”