Consumer groups calling on CAQ to eliminate sales tax on hydro bills

Consumer groups are calling on the Legault government to eliminate the province's sales tax on Hydro-Quebec bills, arguing that electricity is an essential service.

Vivianne de Tilly, the energy analyst for the Union des consommateurs, says the CAQ should take their cue from the Conservative Party of Canada, who vowed last week to do away with the 5 per cent federal GST on home heating bills across the country.

She says cutting the 9.975 per cent QST on Hydro-Quebec bills would save the average consumer about $225 per year — and points out that in the past few years, the number of people having trouble paying their hydro bills has grown in the province, and that Hydro-Quebec has to write off no less than $100 million a year in unpaid bills.

The Canadian Federation of Taxpayers is on board with the idea, calling the abolition of taxes on electricity bills "a step in the right direction".

It's also calling on the Legault government to move on reimbursing Quebecers the $1.7 billion it was found to have overcharged Quebecers since 2005 — something it urged the former Liberal govenrment to do while they were in opposition.

The Legault government is set to table its maiden budget on March 21.