EDMONTON - With the ban on cutting off service to working Albertans who are behind on their utilities bills expiring this Friday, April 15, advocates are sounding the alarm and demanding an emergency action to avoid thousands of Albertans losing their access to utilities.
“We are in the middle of a crushing affordability crisis,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “With record-breaking inflation, skyrocketing costs of food, and rapidly rising utilities, working Albertans just can’t get a break. And now, the UCP government has abandoned Albertans.”
“Today we’re demanding answers from the UCP government and the Utility Consumer Advocate on behalf of Albertans.,” Lafortune said. “A few missed bills can mean financial ruin or getting stuck in unmanageable debt with no hope of saving for a rainy day, never mind achieving home ownership or retirement savings. Right now we’re trying to stem a crisis. That’s why we are writing to the Minister and Advocate for an urgent meeting to come up with overdue fixes to this crisis.”
“The UCP government could immediately intervene to help these families,” said Lafortune. “A rate cap reintroduction and an extended ban on service cut-off would mean taking one source of pressure off of working families. But they haven’t stepped up to help Albertans with the affordability crisis at all. Instead, they’ve made life harder with cuts to public services, selling off affordable housing, and cutting income supports for Alberta’s most vulnerable.”
Ian Young, an Albertan living on a fixed income from AISH, echoed Lafortune’s concerns and described his own anxiety with rapidly-climbing utility bills.
“Lots of people in my position don’t like to speak out for fear of being shamed because of stigma and potential retaliation, but enough is enough,“ said Young. “My utility costs have gone up so much that by the end of the month I am left with less than ten dollars for the month after all my expenses are covered. I am proud to stand alongside those who don’t feel they have a voice because we need real action from this UCP government now.”
“Tomorrow’s deadline for the service ban is a wake up call to all levels of government in Alberta,” added Lafortune. “The affordability crisis is unmanageable for so many, and will leave thousands of Albertans in the dark.”