Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs achieves major victory on Hydro rates
May 1, 2018
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2018
Treaty One Territory, MB. _ Advocacy by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs led the Manitoba Public Utilities Board to create a specific rate class for First Nations living on reserve – a first in Canada; rates will not increase either in 2018/2019.
“This is an important victory for First Nations in Manitoba. We have long insisted that our relationship with the Crown has to be reflected in all of the Crown’s actions, including those of Manitoba Hydro. That special relationship began with our Treaties when we offered to share this land with the settlers,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.
This winter, moved by St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief David McDougall, the AMC Executive Council of Chiefs agreed to participate as an intervenor in the PUB’s hearing for Manitoba Hydro’s General Rate Application. Represented by Indigenous rights law firm Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP, the AMC argued that First Nations living on reserve face unique circumstances including significantly higher levels of poverty, sub-standard housing and fewer energy efficiency options.
“I am pleased with the PUB’s decision. The cost of living in an Island Lake First Nation is exorbitant, so this new on-reserve residential rate is welcome news. However, this is beneficial not only for northern and remote First Nations but all First Nations in Manitoba,” said Chief McDougall.
Among other things, the AMC argued that the fact that building codes do not apply on reserve the way it applies to off-reserve communities means that on-reserve housing is far more expensive to keep heated. Moreover, only 2 out of 63 First Nations in Manitoba have access to natural gas as an alternative heating source. In reaching its decision, the PUB adopted many of AMC’s submissions.
Grand Chief Dumas concluded: “This decision recognizes the hardship faced by so many First Nations living on reserve. They see Hydro dams on their territory, generating revenue and electricity for Manitoba, while leaving only devastation and unaffordable bills behind. We applaud the Public Utilities Board for its leadership on this important issue, and hope that this will lead to real, positive change.”