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Crews working to restore power after Manitoba snowstorm will be able to vote

The Canadian Press logoThe Canadian Press 2019-10-18
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WINNIPEG — Hundreds of Manitoba Hydro staff working to restore power after the province was hit by a major snowstorm will be able to vote in Monday's federal election.

The storm last week crumpled more than 100 transmission structures, broke thousands of wooden utility poles and downed around 800 kilometres of power lines.

Manitoba Hydro said just under 5,000 customers remained without power Friday, down from 53,000 last Saturday.

Hydro has almost 900 staff from across the province working around the clock to restore power, meaning many will be away from their home riding on election day.

The Crown worked with Elections Canada to develop a plan to ensure staff can vote in the federal election in the areas where they are working.

Canadians unable to vote in their home riding usually must use advance polls or get special ballots, but many Hydro employees couldn't do that because of the timing of the massive storm.

"We had always intended that our staff would get time off in order to participate in their election process, but this development saves hours of travel time allowing our hardworking field employees to both vote and continue to work to restoring service to our customers with a minimum of disruption," said Hydro president and CEO Jay Grewal in a news release on Friday.

The utility said it had restored more than 97 per cent of almost 260,000 outage calls by Friday.

Crews also replaced 1,100 poles and 160 kilometres of power lines. All damaged transmission lines were also restored.

Most of the remaining outages are in rural areas and First Nations communities in central Manitoba and the Interlake region to the north.

Some repairs have been slowed by rough road and travel conditions. Hydro says some areas will remain without power until next week.

Following the storm about 6,000 people from a dozen First Nations left their homes and stayed with family, in hotels or in a shelter set up by the Canadian Red Cross in Winnipeg. Some have now returned home.

Elections Canada has said it is working with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure those out of their homes will be able to vote at the University of Winnipeg.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2019.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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