Toronto residents risk losing their Hydro investment through piecemeal privatization, workers' union says

    TORONTO, Jan. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Toronto residents are facing the possible
loss of decades of investing in their electricity infrastructure through
piecemeal privatization of Toronto Hydro, says CUPE Local One, which
represents workers at the utility.
    "Toronto Hydro plans to solicit expressions of interests from companies
that may wish to purchase its subsidiary, Toronto Hydro Telecom," said Pauline
Niles, Local One president. "This is an extensive fibre optic network reaching
from Mississauga to Pickering - and the largest WiFi network in Canada - that
belongs to the people of Toronto.
    "It is a betrayal of the public interest to even consider privatizing yet
another piece of one of the city's greatest public assets, especially at the
same time as Toronto Hydro is getting ready to activate time-of-use meters.
Where is the sense in selling the infrastructure that provides the data from
the smart meters? Is Toronto Hydro going to turn around and buy back the data
from private owners?"
    The people who keep the lights on - Toronto Hydro workers - are concerned
that the municipally owned utility will be privatized piece by piece, she
said, noting that last year Toronto Hydro sold its 85,000 water heater
customers to Consumers Water Heater Income Fund.
    "We need to keep our electrical utility wholly public, not only to ensure
that the public investment and public good is protected, but to make the most
of opportunities to conserve electricity. The water heater program would have
been a perfect chance," said Local One Vice-President Victor Demelo. "We know
that private corporations are not in the business of selling less. They will
do everything they can to maximize consumption and profits."
    Niles and Demelo said that their union is monitoring ongoing debate and
discussion about the City of Toronto's current financial crisis because of
concern that pressure will grow for the total sell-off of this important
public asset in exchange for short-term financial gain.

For further information:

For further information: Pauline Niles, President, CUPE Local One, (416)
936-5129; Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, (416) 616-6142

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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