Parsons ad­dresses power rate con­cerns

MHA for Bur­geo – La Poile came un­der fire from vot­ers on so­cial me­dia

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY ROS­ALYN ROY

Andrew Parsons is wor­ried about re­cent and fu­ture power rate in­creases too.

The MHA for Bur­geo– La Poile says he is well aware of the con­cerns be­ing ex­pressed by res­i­dents in his rid­ing and through­out the prov­ince.

“Elec­tric­ity prices across the prov­ince is prob­a­bly one of the top top­ics no mat­ter where you go, which cor­ner of the prov­ince,” said Parsons, who was in at­ten­dance at an af­ford­able hous­ing an­nounce­ment on Tues­day, July 17. “It’s frus­trat­ing.”

Parsons isn’t the only one who is frus­trated.

The day be­fore, Jonathan Ket­tle tagged Parsons in a post on the Port aux Basques and Area Open Fo­rum, re­quest­ing to hear the lat­ter’s take on power rate in­creases.

“If your (sic) pub­lic safety min­is­ter what are you and the lib­er­als go­ing to do to look af­ter the safety of kids and fam­i­lies who have no power in the win­ter when out­ra­geous bills force peo­ple in a bad spot?” wrote Ket­tle. “The P.U.B. is al­low­ing rate in­creases to be ap­proved faster than the pub­lic can ad­just.

It’s dis­heart­en­ing to see the lack of any re­sponse by our gov­ern­ment and the lack of com­ments by our rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the is­sue.”

Ket­tle went on to ex­press re­gret at vot­ing Lib­eral in the last elec­tion based on Parsons’ char­ac­ter and stated he won’t be vot­ing the same way next time. He also ad­mit­ted he didn’t ex­pect Parsons to re­spond.

“If forc­ing our con­stituents into bank­ruptcy or mov­ing is the Lib­eral plan, it will be in full force soon enough,” wrote Ket­tle.

Ket­tle later clar­i­fied to The Gulf News via email that he pur­posely chose to post on so­cial me­dia rather than reach out to Parsons.

“I did not reach out to Mr. Parsons di­rectly,” he said. “It is my opin­ion that this is a very pub­lic prob­lem that will have an im­pact on ev­ery ci­ti­zen in this prov­ince. That is why I chose to start an open dis­cus­sion.”

Ket­tle’s ini­tial post soon had over 100 com­ments, mostly from other res­i­dents wor­ried about al­ready high power bills pos­si­bly dou­bling or tripling.

Sarah Court­ney, a stu­dent at­tend­ing the Col­lege of the North Atlantic in Cor­ner Brook, was one of the first posters who joined the dis­cus­sion.

“As a stu­dent liv­ing on a stu­dent loan I get just enough money to pay for my school­ing, pay my monthly bills (rent, phone, in­ter­net, heat) and I can af­ford gro­ceries each month. It wor­ries me to think that in the up­com­ing years I will be get­ting the same amount of money from my stu­dent loan but hav­ing to pay an ex­ces­sive amount more each month to­wards my heat bill. In the win­ter my largest bill in my 2-bed­room apart­ment was about $130,” Court­ney wrote later to The Gulf News. “That same bill is now go­ing to be leaning more to­wards $300. I’m hav­ing to con­sider rent­ing my 2nd bed­room as a means to cover my bills and af­ford to live. I feel like this is some­thing I shouldn’t have to be wor­ry­ing about, but it’s be­com­ing a big con­cern for me.”

Parsons says he is al­ways open to talk­ing with his con­stituents via phone, email or in per­son, but prefers not to jump into so­cial me­dia frays. He did point out that the cost of a post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in New­found­land is much more af­ford­able than in other prov­inces, and that power rates are con­sid­er­ably higher in some other prov­inces as well.


Some com­menters even wrote that they were con­sid­er­ing re­lo­cat­ing.

“I be­lieve if peo­ple have the op­tion and means to leave, they will,” main­tains Ket­tle, who spent a lot of time dis­cussing the is­sues brought forth by his orig­i­nal post. “I think our gov­ern­ment should be think­ing about the fact they may drive away tran­sient work­ers and for lack of a bet­ter term our mid­dle class. Th­ese are work­ers that front the big­gest bill with in­come taxes. Then get hit by ridicu­lous gas prices and ab­surd power bills. If we re­move the money put into New­found­land’s econ­omy from our mid­dle class our prov­ince is in even big­ger trou­ble. We are al­ready headed to­wards a wel­fare prov­ince. If there is no one left to pay taxes, who pays for all of our so­cial pro­grams?”

Ket­tle says he’s toyed with the idea of re­lo­cat­ing too.

“I chose to live in New­found­land be­cause it has al­ways been my home. Watch­ing the dis­gust­ing mis­man­age­ment of the prov­ince’s fi­nances and the di­rec­tion our prov­ince is headed, mov­ing might be the only op­tion,” ad­mit­ted Ket­tle. “If I can buy a house in another prov­ince for the cost of a New­found­land power bill, I would have to be a fool to stay. I hope our lead­ers re­ally hear the peo­ple of the prov­ince. Peo­ple are fed up. Changes in gas prices, fees for ev­ery­thing and elec­tric­ity in­creases con­stantly is more of a bur­den than peo­ple can han­dle.”

“Ev­ery prov­ince is fac­ing th­ese is­sues,” notes Parsons. “Go out to B.C. and check out what the gas prices are out there. They’re sig­nif­i­cantly higher.”

Ket­tle be­lieves peo­ple will be fac­ing some dif­fi­cult choices when the weather starts to cool in the fall, par­tic­u­larly se­niors on a fixed in­come, some of who al­ready strug­gle. He hopes peo­ple will do­nate to lo­cal food banks and shel­ters, pre­dict­ing an in­creased need.


Parsons says gov­ern­ment is work­ing on com­ing up with a real so­lu­tion for peo­ple. He says that so­lu­tion is go­ing to in­volve money and find­ing that money is no dif­fer­ent than find­ing it for health care or ed­u­ca­tion.

“It’s a real is­sue. Peo­ple’s power rates are go­ing to go up,” ac­knowl­edged Parsons, who doesn’t in­tend to see peo­ple hav­ing to de­cide be­tween heat and food.

“We’re work­ing on mit­i­ga­tion,” prom­ises Parsons. “We’ve taken tan­gi­ble steps within the last cou­ple of weeks that peo­ple will see soon when it comes to work­ing on heat­ing sys­tems, and when it comes to work­ing on find­ing ways to make it af­ford­able.”

Parsons points out that when the pro­vin­cial Lib­eral party was in op­po­si­tion, they fil­i­bus­tered for five days against Muskrat Falls. By the time the Lib­er­als formed the gov­ern­ment there was a $2.7 bil­lion deficit, and the ink was al­ready dry on the con­tracts.

“Back at that time there was ac­tu­ally a sig­nif­i­cant amount of sup­port for Muskrat Falls,” re­calls Parsons. “Now we are deal­ing with, as a gov­ern­ment, the mess that was left to us by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Also com­ing un­der fire on the Face­book dis­cus­sion was the 2018 Sun­shine List, which dis­closes em­ploy­ees who make over $100,000 per year while serv­ing in gov­ern­ment or pub­lic bod­ies or agen­cies, in­clud­ing Nal­cor. Parsons says he’s well aware of the list too.

“As some­body who watches this and works my butt off, I find it very dif­fi­cult when I see some of the bonuses that th­ese in­di­vid­u­als are get­ting,” said Parsons.


“Rate hikes should be jus­ti­fied. And by jus­ti­fi­ca­tion I do not mean in­creas­ing profit mar­gins. That is what is hap­pen­ing right now. I would like to see our hon­ourable mem­bers ac­tu­ally fight for its con­stituents and hold the pub­lic util­i­ties board ac­count­able. Be­ing a ca­reer politi­cian and tow­ing the party line should not be more of a con­cern than look­ing out for this beau­ti­ful is­land we call home,” be­lieves Ket­tle. “An­nounc­ing new projects and spend­ing money is great. Just don’t for­get who pays the bill.”

“I don’t want to see, and I don’t plan on see­ing it dou­bling,” says Parsons, who notes this is not a will­ing choice by gov­ern­ment. “We’ve all got fam­ily and friends here that can­not af­ford it. We can’t al­low that to hap­pen, so what we’re try­ing, and this is a daily chal­lenge, is to find a way to deal with that is­sue.”


Jonathan Ket­tle is a frus­trated voter who prompted a lengthy so­cial me­dia dis­cus­sion about New­found­land power rates on Mon­day, July 16.


Bur­geo– La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons in Port aux Basques on Tues­day, July 17.

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