The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government will force Hydro-Québec to reimburse customers across the province for overbilling.
Quebec Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien confirmed Tuesday a bill will be tabled this week at the National Assembly to address the issue of overcharging by the public utility. He said he would not provide more details about the proposed legislation until it is presented to MNAs on Wednesday.
The CAQ government has estimated that Hydro-Québec has overcharged customers by $1.5 billion.
Quebec Premier François Legault had long criticized the Liberals for not reimbursing Quebecers while the CAQ was in Opposition. In March, he came under fire in the National Assembly and his government was accused of hypocrisy for not addressing the issue.
“I understand people are frustrated and they want money back so I’ve asked Hydro-Québec to make an effort,” said Legault on Tuesday.
Renaud Brossard, the Quebec director for the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, applauded the province’s move. In May, the federation had delivered a petition, which garnered 75,000 signatures, asking Legault to return the overcharges to customers.
“This is incredible news for Quebec consumers who have been asking for this for a long time,” said Brossard.
Under the bill, Quebecers would see a rate reduction on their electricity bills beginning in 2020, he added. According to Brossard, Hydro-Québec rates will then be frozen and subjected only to inflation, which will result in a reduction in fees for customers.
“I know we would all love to get a cheque from the government saying ‘Here’s the money back,'” he said. “It’s not going to be the case but people will see it on their hydro bills.”
WATCH BELOW: Opposition parties cry foul over CAQ’s handling of overcharges
— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and Elysia Bryan-Baynes