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Poverty not grounds for cheaper power rate, courts rule

A group trying to get lower power rates for the poor has lost its fight at the province’s top court, which ruled that poverty isn't a protected ground under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A group trying to get lower power rates for the poor has lost its fight at the province’s top court.

Poverty isn’t a protected ground under the Charter of Right and Freedoms, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has ruled. The Affordable Energy Coalition had argued poor people were being discriminated against because the law requires power rates to be the same for everyone.

The court case was started in 2006 by five low-income people: Denise Boulter, a single mom with depression; Yvonne Carvery, a diabetic senior; Laura Lannon, who is disabled; Wayne MacNaughton, who has reduced vision; and Karan Whitman, an immigrant single mother.

At the time, Nova Scotia Power had announced it would apply to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for a rate hike. Rates went up again in 2009 by 9.3 per cent.

In a written decision, Justices Joel Fichaud, Jamie Saunders and Jill Hamilton ruled that the Charter could have protected the five claimants under other grounds, such as their gender, age or minority status, but their poverty wasn’t enough to get them Charter protection.

 
 
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