(Quebec) While small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Quebec are seeing their electricity bills increase by 6.5%, interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay is asking the Legault government to simply cancel this increase.

“[This increase] adds to the burden on our entrepreneurs and SMEs who are dealing with rising costs, pandemic-related debt and labor shortages,” Mr. Tanguay said in interview with The Canadian Press.

“What we are asking very clearly is to cancel the increase for both individuals and SMEs,” he adds.

The increases in hydroelectricity tariffs have been effective since Saturday. On February 15, the National Assembly adopted Bill 2, which notably allows the price indexation rate of Hydro-Québec’s domestic distribution tariffs to be capped at 3%. This cap does not apply to SMEs.

He believes this will also have an impact on consumers and on inflation, and he says that “73 of SMEs are reduced to transferring their additional costs into their prices.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon opened the door on Friday to help for SMEs that will need it; nothing to convince the Liberal leader, however.

The increase is also criticized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which is asking the government to cap the indexation of electricity rates at 3% for SMEs and households. There are fears that the increased tariffs will weaken the economy at a time when several SMEs are emerging from the pandemic.

Marc Tanguay reiterated that hydroelectricity rates should be frozen and the power to set future increases should be given back to the Régie de l’énergie du Québec.