N.S. opposition parties are calling for urgent action to address energy poverty

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's opposition parties are calling on the government to subsidize energy bills for residents struggling with the rising cost of living.

The executive director of the Department of Community Services told a legislative committee today that about 37 per cent of Nova Scotians are experiencing energy poverty.

Joy Knight says an advisory group met for the first time two weeks ago to discuss how to lower rates for low-income residents.

Members of the Liberal party and NDP say it’s disappointing this group only recently met for the first time, and that the province must act fast to help people who are struggling to pay energy bills.

In 2022, the Progressive Conservative government voted down an amendment from the NDP that would have allowed the province's electric utility to establish a low-income electricity rate.

Nova Scotia Power says that so far this year, 2,825 residential customers have been disconnected from power because they were not able to pay their bills.

Brian Gifford, chair of the provincial Affordable Energy Coalition and member of the advisory group, says Nova Scotia “can do better” to help those who are struggling to pay for electricity.

Gifford says the group expects to present options to the government by late January for a program to reduce energy bills of low- and modest-income households.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press