Melanie (Mel) and her husband, John, live with their two preschool children in a 3 bedroom bungalow just south of Owen Sound. Mel and John both work full-time while her mother cares for their children.
“Day care is totally out of the question,” she says. “We have to save every extra penny for our hydro bills.”
They haven’t been disconnected yet, but regularly receive disconnect notices. “We just eat a lot of eggs or canned soup for a week, so that we can get that bill paid.”
The one thing Mel and John argue the most about is electricity and trying to find more ways to cut their usage. They have electric heat which is turned almost completely off during the day.
At night, the heat in the rest of the house is turned all the way down and they use a kerosene heater for warmth in the bedroom. Mel worries about fires and whether there are fumes coming from the heater which may harm her children. “We don’t feel we have any choice at this point. We just don’t dare turn the heat up.”
Things have gotten so bad this year, that Mel and John have moved the baby’s crib into their bedroom, which is what the 2-year-old sleeps in. Their 10 month old daughter sleeps with them in their bed.
When at home, the children are always double or triple dressed, depending on the temperature outside. It’s not unusual that the baby has an extra set of clothing on over top of her sleeper all the time. Their other daughter often plays with her toys on the living room floor, while wearing mittens and a knitted hat.
John’s parents live in Saskatchewan and they have said that he can move his family out there to live with them. Mel’s parents have offered them the same, which would be advantageous for all, since her parents struggle to pay their hydro bills as well. All of them have discussed the idea of the entire clan leaving Ontario entirely and all six of them relocating to Saskatchewan. The only concern is whether they could all find jobs.
Any mention of Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals infuriates both John and Mel so they try to avoid the topic as much as possible. “They’ve ruined our lives and our childrens lives,” says John. “We know the day is coming that we’ll have to leave Ontario if we hope to return to living in the 21st century, but we’re holding off as long as possible.” After a pause he says, “But I don’t know what the hell we’re waiting for.”
Mel chirps in, “We’re going to have to make a decision before the girls start school and time is running out. There’s no hope for us to survive in this province and no future for our girls. None.”
“We just want to live a normal life again, without the constant fear of a f***ing electricity bill always hanging over your head.” says John. “And on top of everything else, now we have this damned carbon tax. It’s insane. What are they doing?”