As the COVID-19 crisis is teaching us, the impact of being unprepared in a rapidly changing world can be far worse than the cost of taking proactive and bold action.
The same rural and remote communities that are already facing the highest energy cost burdens in the province may also be hit hardest in an economic downturn. Even before this crisis, thousands of people across BC were already struggling to pay their regular utility bills. Rural communities that depend on resource commodities could be at even greater risk of extended job losses as a global recession takes hold.
We believe that energy security is a right. All British Columbians must be able to access essential energy services without hardship — no one should be forced to choose between paying their utility bills and feeding their family.
We applaud the steps that the BC Government and utilities have taken so far to provide short-term relief and flexible payment options for energy bills during the peak of the crisis. Yet without stronger protective measures, thousands of families could be forced to make heartbreaking decisions in the months and years to come.
That’s why today we are launching our campaign – Energy Security for All in British Columbia.
We are calling on the Province of British Columbia to:
1) Provide emergency bill relief to all who need it by improving crisis programs, eliminating late payment charges, and extending utility disconnection bans to at least 2021.
2) Create new sustained protections, including a basic energy rebate to provide direct bill relief for all low-income households.
3) Accelerate BC’s recovery and create thousands of jobs by committing to an ambitious housing renewal strategy that will ensure every home and building in BC meets rigorous climate and health standards.
We ask you to join us today by sending a letter to BC government leaders supporting our call to action.
Graham Anderson, Director of Community Energy, Ecotrust Canada