Open Letter to Hydro-Québec
Hydro-Québec must respect Quebecers: their customers and preferred shareholders
It is on behalf of the Mayors of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC that I ask members of the National Assembly to review the complaints process at Hydro-Québec and to subject the Crown Corporation to the mandate of the Protecteur du citoyen. We need a profound change in this corporation which prides itself on being the leader in Quebec economy, being a leader on an international scale, but ignoring a fundamental element: their privileged customers and shareholders, Citizens of Quebec.
A recent experience of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges RCM has revealed important shortcomings that we must denounce for our 150,000 citizens. It took almost a year of work to obtain electrical connection to our new head office. During this year, we experienced all kinds of ups and downs, such as having to start the file over again as administrative changes led to a loss of our records.
However, we were good players with Hydro-Québec – we even moved our building a few meters and assumed the related costs because the Crown Corporation could not move the poles in the required time. Our problems were finally resolved through the intervention of our provincial elected representatives. Any supplier who acted in this way would have been dismissed immediately.
However, due to Hydro-Québec's monopoly, we had to deploy a lot of energy for a simple electrical connection. It is not the quality of the work of the employees on the ground that we question, but the entire administrative structure that has undermined our connection process and has entailed additional costs.
Unfortunately, this case is not isolated. Our municipalities regularly meet with citizens facing problems with Hydro-Québec. This is the case, for example, in the town of Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, where a citizen had to wait two years before getting an electrical connection.
Citizens have no recourse to Hydro-Québec because, in addition to having a monopoly, the latter enjoys a special status since it is not subject to the mandate of the Protecteur du citoyen (Québec Ombudsman). In 2015 and 2016, more than 400 citizens contacted the Protecteur du citoyen to file a complaint against Hydro-Québec. It is unacceptable for a Crown Corporation such as Hydro-Québec to benefit from such status when even the Minister of Natural Resources is subject to the mandate of the Protecteur du citoyen.
Currently, to file a complaint with Hydro-Québec, you must contact Hydro-Québec which acts as judge in the complaints against it. To pursue the complaint further, you must contact the Régie de l'Énergie and take heavy legal steps with the assistance of a lawyer.
This situation must end. The council of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC is asking the elected members of the National Assembly to act now to protect citizens against an abusive monopoly and give them the rights and services they deserve. Provincial elected officials are also responsible for thoroughly reviewing Hydro-Québec's processes so that the Crown Corporation can respond to its clients' baseline demands in an appropriate time. No public agency or institution should be able to ignore citizens in our democratic system.
Jean A. Lalonde,
Prefect of the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges