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Ontario government announces off-peak hydro rate cut, one-time payments for older students

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces Hydro relief rates, expanded support for parents' Coronavirus: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces Hydro relief rates, expanded support for parents
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday announced new hydro relief rates as well as expanded support for a learners program to help parents – Dec 22, 2020

The Ontario government said hydro rates will be fixed at the off-peak rate and parents of high schoolers are eligible for a one-time payment as the province prepares to enter lockdown due to rising coronavirus cases.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

“It’s just going to show up on your next bill,” Ford said.

The government said electricity prices will be on an off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt an hour for all time-of-use and tiered customers starting on Jan. 1, 2021. The rate will be in place all day for the following 28 days.

Read more: Ontario to enter ‘provincewide shutdown’ on Boxing Day

“The off-peak price will automatically be applied to bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates,” the government said.

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The move on Ontarians’ hydro bills comes as a provincewide shutdown is set to begin on Boxing Day for 14 days for northern Ontario and 28 days for southern Ontario.

For parents of high schoolers, starting in January those students aged 13 to Grade 12 will be eligible for a one-time payment of $200 per student.

The government said this is to help offset education expenses as high school students in northern Ontario will be on virtual learning starting in the new year until Jan. 11, with southern Ontario high school students learning online until Jan. 25.

“Support will be available for those who attend a public or private school or who are homeschooled,” the government said.

Officials said secondary student applications will be open from Jan. 11 to Feb. 8.

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The funding for older students is part of the government’s Support for Learners, which also offered funding to elementary students. The application for children or youth 12 or under, or children and youth aged 21 or under with special needs, is being extended to Feb. 8.

“While Ontario schools remain safe, we won’t take any chances following the holidays — we will pivot to teacher-led online learning to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “We are providing direct financial support to parents of elementary and now high school children to help them get through this pandemic.”

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