- The CAQ government passed Bill 34 this weekend by invoking closure yet again.
- The bill will work to freeze Hydro-Québec rates and deliver rebates to customers in response to Hydro-Québec's earning variances between 2008 and 2016.
- The rate-freeze goes into effect on April 1, 2020.
The CAQ government has yet again used the power of closure to pass a bill in the wee hours of the night. This past Saturday, the National Assembly was working past midnight to wade through discussions surrounding Bill 34, the bill that would see a Hydro-Québec rate freeze starting in 2020 and set the rates going forward for the next five years. Hydro-Québec customers will soon see a credit that will add up to $500 million in savings across the province - a significantly smaller figure than the $1.5 billion initially discussed.
This is the third time the CAQ government has "fast-tracked" the adoption of a bill, according to the CBC. They also used this tactic to pass the controversial Bill 21 or religious symbols law.
Invoking closure allows the government to "suspend certain parliamentary rules in order to limit debate," the CBC explains, noting that Legault defended the decision because Bill 34 had been under discussion for about 100 hours in total.
Legault then went on to say, "One hundred hours, it's enough. How much is democracy? One thousand hours? Two thousand hours? I think after 100 hours, the people around the table have said what they have to say."
The $500 million is a whole billion shy of the original figure discussed for reimbursing customers who paid more than they should have between 2008 and 2016.
Individuals will see the rebate in the form of a cheque amounting to around $60.
Below is a tweet from Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonatan Julien, celebrating the passing of this bill at 1:36 a.m., after invoking closure.
All three opposition parties have been pushing back on the bill since it was introduced and voted against it in October.
The tweet reads, "Tonight PL34 was adopted in the National Assembly. Predictability to customers [of Hydro-Québec], a return of $500 million in the first quarter, a freeze on rates and an increase in indexing."
Some opposition parties believed that there was no need to pass a bill in order to reimburse customers, and that the new tie to inflation could mean customers end up paying more in the long run.
The Canadian Press explains that the rebate each customer will see is going to be based on their electricity consumption between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2019, and it will likely be around $60.
People who are no longer Hydro-Québec customers but were during the period mentioned above need only contact Hydro-Québec with their current address to have their $60 cheque forwarded to their new address.
We reached out to Hydro-Québec to better understand the discrepancy between the previously-reported $1.5 billion that Hydro-Québec customers could expect to see as part of a rebate plan and the current $500 million that customers will start to see next year.
We will update this space with their response.
The bill's rate freeze goes into effect April 1, 2020, which is when customers will start to see the rebates coming their way.