Wynne to re­view di­rec­tors’ raises

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - SHAWN JEFFORDS

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.”

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