Ontario Government Reveals List of Essential Business, Plus Hydro Rate Cut

All non-essential businesses in Ontario will be closed by midnight tonight as mandated by the Government of Ontario, and they’ve released a comprehensive list featuring 74 categories of businesses that will be allowed to remain open. At the same time, the Government has also announced that they will be providing rate relief for hydro prices by suspending time-of-use metering for the next month-and-a-half. 

“During this unprecedented time, we are providing much-needed relief to Ontarians, specifically helping those who are doing the right thing by staying home and small businesses that have closed or are seeing fewer customers,” said Premier Doug Ford Tuesday in a statement. “By adopting a fixed, 24/7 off-peak rate, we are making things a little easier during these difficult times and putting more money in people’s pockets for other important priorities and necessities.”

The off-peak rate is 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the rate of on-peak, which was 20.8 cents-per-kilowatt-hour as of November 2019. The 10.1 cent rate will be available 24 hours-a-day and seven days a week for the next 45 days, and the rate cut will be done automatically without any need for consumers to fill out a form, or reach out to their service provider.

“Ontario is fortunate to have a strong electricity system we can rely on during these exceptional times, and our government is proud to provide additional relief to Ontarians who are doing their part to stay home,” added Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

Depending on billing cycles, consumers may see the rate adjustment on their next hydro bill, according to the government. The Ontario Energy Board has also extended the winter ban on disconnections through to July 31.

As for the rest of the economy, the Ontario government has followed up on Monday’s order that all non-essential businesses have to close by Tuesday at midnight by releasing a  list of businesses that they deem to be “essential.”

In terms of retail establishments, the usual suspects like grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations will be allowed stay open, but so will hardware stores, office supply stores, pet stores, vehicle repair shops, and beer, liquor and cannabis stores. Food services and restaurants will also be allowed to remain open, but only if they’re serving takeout and delivery.

You can find the full list of “essential” businesses on the Government of Ontario website here.

“While this was a difficult decision, we trust that Ontario’s business leaders will be able to promote safety while carrying out business and protecting jobs,” said Ford in yesterday’s statement. “The grocery store clerks, transit and hydro workers and truckers are out there on the front lines making sure the people of Ontario continue to have access to the products and services they need. It is essential that their workplaces be kept as safe as possible so these local heroes can return home to their families worry free.”

The non-essential business not included on the list will remain closed for the foreseeable future, and the Government is encouraging people to work from home wherever possible.

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