Toronto Hydro execs charge ratepayers for booze, membership renewals
A Toronto Hydro line worker works to restore power to a house in a Scarborough neighbourhood on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:40PM EST
You pay them anywhere from $400,000 a year to nearly $1 million a year. But they’re using money from your hydro bills to expense things like booze, gifts for staff and professional membership fees.
While Toronto Hydro officials have been asking the Ontario Energy Board to increase electricity rates, the agency’s top executives have been billing ratepayers for alcohol consumed during business meals, and so-called "employee recognition" perks.
A CTV News review of expenses claimed between 2011 to 2013 confirms top Hydro brass expensed alcohol with their working meals and business meetings.
The utility is defending the reimbursements, but says it's going to change the policy so it's no longer acceptable to expense booze in the future.
"Under the expense policy it was an acceptable expense in some cases -- for example, when entertaining out-of-town delegations, or for retirement dinners," said Toronto Hydro spokesperson Tanya Bruckmueller-Wilson in an email statement.
CTV News has also found that a dozen executives charged ratepayers more than $11,000 worth of professional development membership renewals over the past three years, including a "chartered accountant professional fee" and "Professional Engineers of Ontario Membership renewal fee." In January 2013, one executive charged $1,045.82 to uphold his annual membership with the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Coun. Shelley Carroll, who sits on the Toronto Hydro board of directors, believes such memberships are useful for professional development. However, she is skeptical of the costs associated with them.
"Is it excessive? Does the association make a good business case for the amount of dollars they’re asking? But it’s not unheard of elsewhere in the public sector," Carroll told CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe.
More examples of spending include at least $10,000 in so-called “employee recognition” payments. More than $2,600 was spent for a one-day meeting in Oklahoma, with no explanation. And there are claims of $162 for something called “employee illness.” No further information is provided on those expenses.
The expenses listed on the Toronto Hydro web page lack detail, features no invoices or bills, and don’t give specifics as to where the money was spent and on whom.