TORONTO -- A family that helps look after their father, a veteran of the Second World War, was shocked to know a running toilet caused a water bill of $6,433.

John Royce is now 97 years old, but as a younger man he was active in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the WWII. He now lives in his own home in Kleinberg, Ont. but needs personal support workers with him most of the time.

"To me these are extenuating circumstances," Richard Royce, John's son, told CTV News Toronto. "It's a 97 year old veteran of WWII and this bill is exorbitant." 


Richard Royce said his father needs help 24-hours a day and seven days a week and added "our main objective here is to keep the man comfortable and safe."

Richard Royce said the family had no idea there was an issue with a running toilet that had gone undetected for months. 

John Royce's September and October water bills totaled $6,433. The family didn't notice right away because the bills are paid using an automatic payment plan with the utility. 

"Unfortunately because he is so trusting and it's an automatic withdrawal we didn't catch it as quickly as we could," Richard Royce said.

When Richard Royce reached out to Alectra, the utility company that handles the water bill, he was told the bill could not be forgiven because the water had been used.

"There was a lot of back and forth, but they said basically pay the bill."

He decided to also reach out to Mayor of Vaughan Maurizio Bevilacqua. The mayor told CTV News Toronto that he's "very grateful that his son reached out to me to help his father."

Bevilacqua brought the high water bill before a council meeting and described what happened and it was agreed to waive the charges on the bill and return the funds. 

Council also agreed to look at a forgiveness program that may be implemented in the future to assess accidental high consumption water bills on a case-by-case basis. 

"In many ways this is also going to be part of Mr. Royce's legacy to the city to help those who find themselves facing the same challenges that he has," Bevilacqua said.

Richard Royce says his father was thrilled to hear the bill had been forgiven and the $6,433 will help pay for care that will allow him to stay in his home. 

"I think he is really going to be excited to see that this happened on Remembrance Day. I believe we have really made a difference," Richard Royce said. 

The family is thankful the city of Vaughan agreed to review the high water bill.

It's also a reminder for anyone using automatic payment plans for utilities to make sure you still check the bill amounts each month to make sure there isn't a problem.