Protesters converge on Montreal to oppose hydro rate hikes
Increases are part of PQ's "zero deficit" austerity measures
Protesters from across Quebec took to the streets of Montreal Saturday afternoon to denounce Hydro Québec's rising electricity prices, and the provincial government's austerity measures.
About 400 people attended the event organized by a coalition of 85 groups who say they oppose the the fee increases and the rising privatization of public utilities.
Hydro Québec is requesting an average increase of 5.8 per cent for residential customers' electricity rates as of April 1, 2014.
Spokesman for the coalition, François Saillant, said the groups not only oppose the increase, but the budgetary and fiscal policies of the Parti Québécois, which he said are virtually the same as the previous Liberal government.
Québec Solidaire spokesman, AmirKhadir, said that these increases disproportionately affect those with lower incomes.
"These increases are the perfect example of tax injustice practised by successive governments in Quebec. Ms. [Pauline] Marois refuses to deal with the privileges of the most powerful and, once again, it is the ordinary people who pay the price and have to tighten their belts," said Khadir in a statement.
Protests across Quebec
Demonstrators from across the province came to Montreal for the protest.
A Gatineau-based community group organized free bus transportation to Montreal for 40 protesters.
"Households are no longer able to make ends meet. We have seen the number of subscribers disconnected annually explode, even triple," said the director of the ACEF de l'Outaouais, Eloi Bureau.
"In this context, we consider that households will not be able to afford that and it will bring many social and economic problems."
According to Bureau, Hydro Québec has disconnected over 50,000 households unable to pay their bills in 2011.
Bureau said that the new rate could add $50 to $200 per year, depending on the size of the dwelling.