PowerSmart workers finally get some answers – Efficiency Manitoba Board announced

After years of waiting PowerSmart workers now know a little more about their future…or at least who their future bosses will be if they are moved to the new Efficiency Manitoba Crown corporation.

CUPE 998 congratulates the new Board of Directors on their appointments and looks forward to working with them on a transition plan which will address our members’ concerns, protect their careers and preserve the energy savings programs Hydro customers have come to know, use and depend on. Our intentions are described in this CUPE news release issued on May 18, 2018; we will continue to advocate for our members and hope the new board is more willing to talk than the current government.

The new Efficiency Manitoba Board was announced in a Government of Manitoba press release issued on May 17, 2018 that included their assertion that Manitobans know Manitoba Hydro should not be promoting energy savings and selling power at the same time. A troubling statement considering that Manitoba Hydro-led efficiency programs have been widely successful to date and 2017 polling showed 78% Manitobans wanted PowerSmart to stay with Manitoba Hydro. In addition, engaging in and promoting efficiency in the end-use of power is part of Manitoba Hydro’s legal mandate under the Manitoba Hydro Act. PowerSmart workers and programs have consistently delivered on the energy savings mandate for over 25 years. For proof just look to the many industry awards recognizing the public utility’s efforts; Manitoba Hydro just won the 2018 ENERGY STAR for Products – Promotional Campaign of the Year award, making this their 8th ENERGY STAR award.

Despite all of this, affected workers continue to face uncertainty in their careers and personal lives due to this ill-conceived and poorly managed change. Neither CUPE 998 nor our members were informed or consulted as operational details and transition plans were, and continue to be, developed. A collaborative approach would seek the valuable input of workers and keep them informed.

On behalf of all Manitobans we hope this good work will continue and the new Crown agency will be able to deliver on the government’s promises of being leaner, less expensive and more effective than the current PowerSmart programs but that remains to be seen and we remain to be convinced.