KAWARTHA LAKES-In 2021 approximately 69,000 residential customers fell behing on their bills according to Hydro One.
Officials say that’s no more than previous years, however they are noticing the amount owed by those customers is increasing.
“Our people, towers, poles and wires bring the light, heat, refrigeration and technology that is essential to life. We have a deep responsibility to support our customers with financial assistance, flexibility and choice as we emerge from the pandemic.” Alicia Sayers, Media Relations Hydro One told kawartha 411 News. “We were the first utility to launch a pandemic relief program, which offered financial assistance as well as increased payment flexibility to customers experiencing hardship.”
It’s called the Connected for Life initiative and it aims to help customers experiencing financial hardship stay connected while working with customer service to access flexible payment options and financial assistance according to Hydro One.
“Customers who have not made a payment for more than 30 days and who have not responded to any of our repeated attempts to help them get back on track may start to receive service suspension notices. We encourage customers experiencing financial hardship to contact our customer care team at 1-888-664-9376 so we can work together to help get them back on track and connect them with payment plans and financial relief programs.” explains Sayers.
At a time when rising inflation is driving up the costs of goods and services across Canada, a new Scotiabank survey revealed that more than half of Canadians are worried about their ability to pay for day-to-day expenses (53%). The majority of Canadians expect to be spending more on basic necessities like groceries and food (78%), and gas (71%), while over half expect to spend more on utilities (53%).
“Canadians are feeling heightened levels of anxiety as a result of inflation –especially younger people and women who were also hardest hit by the pandemic,” said D’Arcy McDonald, Senior Vice President of Retail Payments and Unsecured Lending at Scotiabank. “The cost of everything is on the rise and Canadians are worried about their ability to afford the essentials such as food and gas. At the same time, there have never been so many jobs in the Canadian economy, wages are picking up, and inflation will come down over time. With so many moving pieces, Canadians need to use every tool at their disposal to keep them on track to achieve their financial goals.”
Hydro One also offers the following services to help customers manage their electricity account, including:
· Choosing their own billing date and pricing plan (Time-of-Use or Tiered)
· Signing up for high usage notifications to monitor electricity consumption
· Budget billing to flatten spikes in electricity usage that commonly occurs in the summer due to air conditioning use and in the winter due to heating.
The Scotiabank survey also found women, younger Canadians, and those with lower household incomes are significantly more concerned about their financial situation over the next few months. Women (44%) are more likely than men (35%) to say inflation and the rising costs of goods and services is having a major impact on their ability to set and stick to a budget.
Canadians between the ages of 18-34 (45%) and 35-54 (46%) say inflation and the rising costs of goods and services is having a major impact on their ability to set and stick to a budget, compared to Canadians 55+ (30%).
Notably, 20% of Canadians say that rising costs will have no impact on their finances and their ability to stick to a budget. Most of those are people are aged 55+ (28%) compared to Canadians 18-34 (13%) and 35-54 (18%). More men (23%) than women (18%) also say that inflation will have no impact on their ability to set and stick to a budget.
Younger people aged 18-34 comprise the highest contingent (43%) of people who say they are majorly affected by the ability to maintain their current standard of living in this high-cost environment, versus older Canadians over the age of 34 (38%), who say that they are not impacted at all.
“We know that younger Canadians are disproportionately affected by life becoming more expensive, but we also know they are more likely to make use of a digital tool to help track their finances,” says D’Arcy McDonald. “Canadians need to use every tool at their disposal to keep them on track to achieve their financial goals. Careful and simple money management with the new Scotia Smart Money by Advice+ tool – available to Scotiabank customers in the latest version of the Scotia app, can help Canadians manage their cash flow, build budgets, and receive personalized advice to help them look ahead and plan for the future.”