Hydro overbilling: Taxpayers' Federation delivers petition to National Assembly

Members of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation went to the National Assembly Friday morning to deliver a petition with 75,000 names on it, urging Hydro-Quebec to reimburse clients for the money they overbilled Quebecers.

The Federation's petition went online in February, after the government-run utility posted its latest financial figures which reported an overpayment of $182 million in 2018.

Last year, Quebec's auditor-general said those Hydro-Quebec 'overpayments' reached a total of  $1.7 billion between 2005 and 2017.

Renaud Brossard, the president of the Federation's Quebec chapter, points to the fact that while he was in opposition, François Legault demanded the money be returned to Quebecers. In office, however, Legault has only suggested Hydro could issue lower-than-planned rate increases, or even a negative increase, by next year as a form of compensation.

The premier also suggested the money is coming back to Quebecers in other ways, including reduced school taxes and increased family allowance paymemts.

"I think this government has nothing to gain by keeping this money," Brossard says. "Quebecers expected them to pay this money back, Quebecers understand that this money is theirs, and by keeping this money, this government is hurting its brand, it's hurting its numbers. To be honest, I'm really optimistic that we can finally give that money back to Quebecers."

The Federation says it doesn't intend to let up until the money is returned to Quebecers in full. Brossard says he has other ideas to keep the story in the news if the petition drive somehow doesn't work.

"We plan to keep pushing this fight. This is a very very important issue for us," Brossard says. "We sincerely hope the premier will be a man of his word and pay this money back."