Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in Sarnia earlier this week attending an informal roundtable discussion that was organized by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Horwath received a clear-cut message from those attending, including Mehru Malik, Chamber member and owner of Versatile Inn Hotel.  Malik spoke about her specific economic hardships that she said are largely due to the high cost of electricity.

Horwath also heard from other Chamber members, including Karen Sanders, a pork producer and Rick Perdeaux, president of Toolrite Engineering who highlighted the impact high electricity costs are having on their businesses and that of other Chamber members.

Horwath summarized her party’s proposed response to what is one of the biggest issues facing Chamber members. Those proposed initiatives would include eliminating time-of-use pricing, a leveling of delivery charges (typically higher in rural areas than in urban locations), and a “buy back” of Hydro One shares that the Liberal government is intending to sell to pay for infrastructure investment. Horwath is asserting that the savings to electricity customers would be between 20 and 30 percent.

Chamber President & CEO Shirley de Silva told Horwath that Chamber members have consistently pointed to the issue of electricity pricing in the province as being one that directly impacts their competitiveness.

Michael John Kooy, Chair of the Chamber’s board of directors, echoed that sentiment, telling Horwath that the business community is deeply concerned over the impact the issue has on the long-term competitiveness of business. “We know the message is one that needs to continually be told,” said Kooy, adding that Horwath’s visit was appreciated by all in attendance.

Other topics discussed at the roundtable include climate change, cap and trade, immigration and the Oversized Load Corridor project.