Unifor proposes amendments to Ontario Bill 165

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Gas line warning signage with subdivision of houses in the distance

Unifor Ontario Regional Director Samia Hashi and President of Unifor Local 975 Doug Carter testified on April 8 to the Standing Committee on the Interior about contracting out and methane leaks in Ontario’s gas sector that result in increased costs to consumers.

“The Ontario government has a unique chance to contain household gas prices increases, fight climate change, and protect good jobs at the same time. It’s a win-win for workers and Ontario families,” said Hashi.

In their testimony to the committee, Hashi and Carter argued that the Ontario Energy Board must do a more rigorous job monitoring gas companies’ investments in infrastructure. Aging gas infrastructure leads to methane leaks, which both contributes to climate change and drives up costs to consumers.

“When gas leaks are not fixed, Ontario families pay three times: They pay through the delayed investment in upgrading and maintaining our gas infrastructure; they pay for it through climate change; they pay through the increased risks of major safety incidents,” Hashi said.

Unifor also noted that regulated gas utility companies have been contracting out maintenance and leak mitigation, which only serves to erode the core competencies and skills sets of the permanent workforce. The result is a “virtual utility” where the regulated entity is simply passing on the work to a contractor. 

Carter said that contracting out is ultimately unsafe, hurts the quality of service, and significantly increases the long-term costs of maintaining Ontario’s gas infrastructure.

“The way that contracting is happening in the gas industry is resulting in inferior quality services, resulting in increased costs, sustained high risks of dangerous gas leaks, and health and safety incidents. We must ensure our utilities have the workers and the in-house skills to ensure safe, reliable, and leak-free infrastructure.”

Unifor proposed amendments to the committee studying the legislation that would help the regulator address these issues.

On February 20, 2024 National President Lana Payne wrote to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources about methane leaks.

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Ian Boyko

National Communications Representative - Western Region