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Local 998, representing Manitoba Hydro workers fights for energy efficiency program

CUPE Local 998 is campaigning to keep the provincial power savings programs, and the CUPE jobs that go along with it, in public hands. Recent polling shows that the local is not alone in wanting to protect the program from being carved out into a new agency.

“Our polling results show 94 per cent support for Power Smart,” said Chris Mravinec, President of CUPE Local 998, representing over one thousand technical and clerical workers at Hydro. “This high support is steady across all age, income and geographic groups, and does not depend on whether or not respondents had made use of the program.”

“Polling also shows that 78 per cent of respondents think Manitoba Hydro should continue to run Power Smart – that’s a large majority,” added Mravinec.

Polling was conducted in December 2016 by Probe Research and results are based on a random sample of 1,000 respondents. There is 95 per cent certainty that the results are within ± 3.1 percentage points of what they would have been if the entire adult population of Manitoba had been interviewed.

The polling results support CUPE’s concerns about the provincial government’s plans to remove the Power Smart program from Hydro. No firm plans have been made public yet, but any new agency tasked with running Power Smart would require set-up and transition costs, and ongoing costs associated with a new board and administration. Hydro could end up buying back services that Manitobans currently own and receive through their public utility.

Local 998 plans to keep up the pressure to leave Power Smart where it is, especially now that the provincial government has declared Red Tape Awareness Week.

“If the provincial government were committed to reducing red tape, it would leave Power Smart as-is,” said Mravinec. “It is neither efficient nor cost-effective to change something that works so well and enjoys so much public support and industry support.”

Mravinec also wants the provincial government to keep Power Smart in-house because, as a crown corporation, Manitoba Hydro has built-in accountability to the public.

“The results are loud and clear: Manitobans trust Manitoba Hydro to deliver Power Smart programs,” concluded Mravinec. “It’s our job to make sure the government is listening, and we will continue to speak up.”

Visit Local 998 online to find out more.

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