How Hydro Ottawa supports our communities during COVID-19 with United Way

3 MIN READ

Local utilities and energy companies have a long history of stepping up to support our communities in times of crisis. 

For Hydro Ottawa, employees have been on the frontlines many times. From ice storms, to floods, to tornadoes, they’ve demonstrated how much everyone can benefit from an act of local love. 

When tornadoes hit our region in 2018, vulnerable people were at risk of going without food due to widespread spoilage caused by outages. Hydro Ottawa crews worked day and night to ensure our communities had the power they needed to stay safe and healthy. 

Now in 2020, in a matter of just a few months, we’ve seen our world transformed as a result of COVID-19, and our way of living changed with it. 

Reliable access to energy is more important now than ever before

In the face of a global pandemic, ensuring that critical services are not interrupted is vital. For the people who have shifted to working from home, reliable access to energy has taken on a whole new meaning. Office workers are depending on consistent power so they can work remotely, and parents are facing new challenges with virtual learning and homeschooling. Seniors and immunocompromised people who may not have regular access to grocery stores are relying on their fridges and freezers so that food can stay fresh for as long as possible. Despite the added pressures, Hydro Ottawa employees have maintained their level of care to ensure their customers have access to a safe and reliable supply of electricity and services at a time when they need it the most.  

Stepping up in more ways than one

In addition to helping customers and protecting the health and safety of employees and residents during this time, Hydro Ottawa also continues to play an active role in our community.

A supporter and partner of United Way East Ontario since 2000, Hydro Ottawa has always been committed to supporting the most vulnerable. During their 2019 annual charitable campaign, the company matched every donation from employees to United Way to make an even greater local impact. 

We’re so grateful that in response to our current challenges, Hydro Ottawa is directing $50,000 of their 2019 matching gift program to support United Way’s response to COVID-19, specifically to ensure local mental health supports can continue to serve those who depend on them. 

Our employees continue to inspire me with their generosity and dedication to the community in which they live and work. As an organization with deep roots dating back more than 100 years, we understand how important the United Way’s work is and that we have a responsibility to show up whenever there’s a crisis,” says Bryce Conrad, President & CEO of Hydro Ottawa.

“By working together with the United Way to tackle some of our city’s biggest issues, to ensuring the safety of our employees so they can keep the lights on when residents need it the most, we want Ottawa to know that we will always be here to help. They can count on us.”

Bryce Conrad
Almost two-thirds of Ontarians (67%) feel that the mental health impacts of COVID-19 are going to be serious and lasting. 

We know how important it is to support the mental health of our entire community through this crisis. While COVID-19 has had a serious and lasting impact on every single one of us, those who live with substance use or mental health challenges are struggling behind closed doors—disconnected from their normal support networks. Thanks to the support of donors like Hydro Ottawa and partners participating in our weekly community response meetings, we’re working together to support creative solutions to those problems.

Energy affordability now, and in the future

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Hydro Ottawa has been working closely with the Ontario Energy Board, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Northern Development and Mines to address customer concerns about managing electricity costs. A number of programs and options are available to customers experiencing difficulty paying their bills.

Some of these programs are focused on reducing costs through conservation, like the AffordAbility Fund. United Way East Ontario is leading a community-based pilot in partnership with Hydro Ottawa and local social service agencies to educate people who may not be aware that they qualify for free energy-saving upgrades through the AffordAbility Fund. 

The Fund operates year-round, and is designed to help lower monthly electricity costs by improving the energy efficiency of a home. The program provides free energy-saving upgrades to eligible residential customers who do not qualify for low-income financial assistance programs.

20 years of partnership

United Way is proud to have a longstanding relationship with Hydro Ottawa since its inception 20 years ago. From going above and beyond during crisis situations to maintain the services we often take for granted, to participating in annual employee giving campaigns for United Way, to working with partners to ensure energy remains affordable for all, Hydro Ottawa’s leadership and long history of giving is instrumental to ensuring Ottawa’s most vulnerable people have access to a reliable network of supports.

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Help the most vulnerable as we respond to COVID-19.