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Province extends hydro rate relief but fixed cost rising 3 cents

Last Updated May 30, 2020 at 3:40 pm EDT

Hydro One electricity transmission lines are seen south of Chesley, Ont., on Sept. 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

Ontario is extending its COVID-19 residential electricity rate relief for another five months, but the fixed price will be going up by nearly three cents per kilowatt hour.

Premier Doug Ford’s office said Saturday that hydro rates will now be a flat 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour, regardless of the time of day.

That’s higher than the 10.1 cents per hour being that’s been charged since electricity relief was introduced on March 24, but still well below peak rates that can reach as high as 20.8 cents.

The province says the changes will be effective June 1 and last until Oct. 31, while industrial and commercial businesses will also see an extension of the COVID-19 relief through the end of June.

When the COVID-19 hydro rate relief was first announced, it was expected to affect about five million residential ratepayers, farms and small businesses subject to time-of-use pricing.

The Ontario government also said on Saturday it would boost funds for retirement home residents in cases of emergency. Amendments to the regulations will allow eligible residents to receive from $2,000 to $3,500 towards costs of transportation, alternative housing or temporary care.

The changes will also require retirement homes to report infectious disease outbreaks to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority during the pandemic and in any future cases.

“We are making sure seniors have the financial resources they need in the event of an emergency, and are making it easier for the retirement home regulator to work with local public health authorities,” Ford said in a press release.