On Tuesday, March 22, nearly six months before the next provincial election, Treasury Secretary Eric Girard unveiled the next provincial budget, which includes measures totaling more than $22 billion over the next 5 years.
The flagship budget measure, $3.2 billion, is set aside to cover rising costs of living in the form of a $500 check for the 6.4 million Quebecers with annual incomes of less than $100,000 for the current year.
Other major measures are focused on health, education and higher education, stimulating economic growth, environmental protection, community and community action.
The budget provides for an announced 5-year health recovery plan of $5.2 billion, of which $1 billion will go to Minister Christian Dube’s Health Plan. 904 million will be available for 2022-2023. Thus, in 2022-2023, healthcare spending will reach $54.2 billion.
In addition, Quebec is providing $3.7 billion over five years, including $394 million for 2022-2023, to improve community care and services. Of this amount, 2.6 billion will go to care for the elderly, especially in nursing homes. According to Fanny Levesque of the daily La Presse, Quebec will have to pay $500 million in 2026-27 to operate these establishments.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The government is allocating about $1.25 billion to support regional economic development. It will invest $439.9 million to promote regional prosperity, $627 million to continue growing the bio-products sector, $163.2 million to promote the forest sector and protect wildlife capital.
In order to promote the prosperity of the regions, the government is planning, within the framework of
from the 2022-2023 budget: $434.9 million over six years to support regional air travel, invest in regional ground transportation infrastructure, and promote regional economic viability, including $234 million to help create accessible regional services and 21 million US dollars for emergency assistance. for regional air travel. Quebec is investing $114.2 million in regional ground transportation infrastructure projects.
In addition, the government is allocating $65.7 million to stimulate the economic vitality of the regions. The amount, to which US$38.8 million is added, is intended to support the MRCs in particular in their needs and their strategic planning in terms of economic development.
It should also be noted that the Lego government has moved the completion of Highway 20 back to the Quebec Infrastructure Plan, which is currently under study.
TOURISM AND CULTURE
The tourism and culture sectors hit by the two-year pandemic will share just over half a billion, or $508 million, towards their recovery. Tourism will receive $250 million over 3 years for 3 areas of intervention. Quebec has allocated $113 million to promote Quebec’s tourism destinations, $108.4 million in direct assistance to tourism businesses to encourage recovery, and $28.6 million to promote outdoor activities.
Quebec also plans to allocate $257.9 million to support the recovery and promotion of Quebec culture over 5 years, as well as to offset the effects of COVID-19. Of this amount, $72.1 million will be used to expand some of the measures taken during the pandemic, such as supporting the broadcast of the show in Quebec and maintaining audiovisual production capacity.
The government is providing the culture sector with a $157.4 million package to provide targeted additional support to hardest-hit areas of culture, encourage the public to choose Quebec culture, ensure the continued value of the first cultural donation tax credit, and enrich the education offered. Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Arts of Quebec.
In addition, $15 million has been allocated to promote Quebec culture and implement Télé-Québec’s digital transformation.
PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITIES
Minister Eric Girard’s budget provides for an investment of $1.1 billion over 5 years to implement the new Government Action Plan for Community Action 2022-2027, which will provide increased financial support for civil society organizations.
Over $888 million will be used to improve and expand funding for approximately 5,000 community organizations. Of this amount, $182 million will go to organizations that promote the fight against sexual and domestic violence, such as shelters for women victims of violence.
The budget also provides $187 million for specific measures, including $65 million to promote the social and professional integration of young people aged 16 to 35 through improved funding for youth employment centers.
In addition, an amount of $1.1 billion is projected to be used to improve support for various communities, including $170 million to support equality between women and men and combat sexual and domestic violence, in particular for two government strategies, $109 million to improve care and services for families and youth, $285 million to continue supporting Aboriginal communities, and $386 million to support passenger transportation and public services.
Quebec is committing $347 million to build 1,000 new affordable housing units over the next five years, confirming the implementation of the already announced 3,500 new housing units. Women victims of violence and the homeless will also be able to receive a “rent supplement”.
The Lego government will also lend a helping hand to 2,200 hard-pressed tenants, including abused women and the homeless, through monthly “rent surcharges.”
The government wants to provide Quebec with a more modern, more efficient and more innovative education system. In this regard, the budget includes investments of more than $2.8 billion over five years in education and higher education to support academic achievement and persistence, and improve access to higher education and graduation rates.
$1.6 billion investment planned to support academic excellence and persistence, i.e. $829 million to give every student the means to reach their full potential, $204 million to ensure school staff recruitment and retention, $267 million $250 million to improve the school building fund and $250 million to get Quebecers to move.
An investment of $1.2 billion over the next five years will also improve access to learning and result in more students succeeding and graduating. Quebec states that it is convinced that these investments will have a positive impact on the labor shortage faced by several sectors of activity that are considered priority.
Although generally welcome by the Executive Committee of the Bas Saint Laurent Regional Table of Municipal Elected Officials (TREMBSL), they are disappointed by the government’s failure to adequately support producers in the private forests of the Bas Saint Laurent. The latter, as indicated, are not able to carry out the necessary forestry work, since regional budgets are fully spent on restoring the areas affected by the spruce leafworm in the economic turnover.
“However, eight MRCs of the Bas-Saint-Laurent and 83 municipalities have unsuccessfully passed resolutions asking for the intervention of the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks. We are also surprised by the lack of measures to finance the municipal recreation and sports infrastructure,” said Michel Lagace, Prefect of the MRC de Rivière-du-Loup and President of TREMBSL.
Finance Minister Eric Girard’s budget highlight, Quebec provides $500 immediate relief. The amount allocated in order, it is emphasized, to “protect against inflation.” This $500 refundable tax credit will apply to adults with an income of $100,000 or less, or nearly 94% of the provincial adult population.
The measure, which the opposition parties call opportunistic and pre-election. The minister has been criticized for not targeting the most vulnerable, hard hit by inflation. The parties in power should also open financial floodgates as elections approach.
Recall that the liberal government of Philippe Couillard faced the same criticism in 2018, as elections approached. Since the start of a mandate marked by “austerity” policies, the latest Liberal budget has led to much more generous announcements than some have called campaigning.