Achievements - 2016 fall session : having the means to invest in our priorities
Quebec City, December 9, 2016 – “In 2016, our government took major steps to move forward on the priorities of Quebecers, i.e. the economy, education, and health care. The change has begun. It is now up to all of us to continue to make it happen, for Quebec, for our regions, and for each of our communities,” stated Premier Philippe Couillard during today’s presentation of his government’s record during its last 6 months in office.
A changing economy: innovative companies exporting goods and services
Over the last 2 years, our government has begun to transform our economy. We have chosen to do so because our companies must stand out in a world that is even more competitive and because high-quality jobs must be created in each and every one of our regions. Citizens are already seeing the impact of the measures which we have adopted. Since we took office, more than 140,000 jobs have been created. Among all provinces, it is In Quebec that companies have created the most jobs. Right now, Quebec has its lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.
- Philippe Couillard
It should be noted that this fall, the Government of Quebec launched Quebec’s 2016-2020 Export Strategy, with a budget of $537 million, which will allow the Government of Quebec to strengthen the capacity of small-and-medium-sized businesses to export their products and services. The Government of Quebec also created the Conseil consultatif sur l’économie et l’innovation, bringing together more than 30 leaders from various sectors of the economy. Finally, we abolished the health tax as of January 1, 2017 (two years earlier than planned); 4.5 million Quebecers will therefore have their tax burden reduced by a total of $759 million.
A changing health care network: modern and accessible
In only six months, we have opened the first-ever super-clinic in Quebec, which will be open 7 days a week and offer access to a wide range of health care professionals. We also announced, at the Forum sur les meilleures pratiques en CHLSD, new investments in the amount of $65 million in order to improve services and the level of care which is offered to patients. More recently, we announced that $20 million would be spent to reduce surgical wait times, that $21 million would be spent to reduce wait times for diagnostic services, and $100 million would be spent to reduce wait times in hospital emergency rooms.
We also launched Quebec’s first-ever health care prevention policy. This policy includes very ambitious targets – for example, reducing the number of smokers to 10% of the population and increasing by 18% the number of seniors who receive home care.
A 21st century health care model for Quebec means creating a Quebec where patients have access to health care and to social services. In the last 2 years, we have been transforming our health care system. These new investments will benefit all Quebecers – especially the more than 40,000 seniors who live in long-term care facilities (CHSLDs) who will see their daily lives transformed by the hiring of 1,150 employees who will meet their needs; the patients who will benefit for the establishment of 18 additional operating rooms and who will therefore see wait times for surgery reduced; the 420,000 additional citizens who will now have access to a family doctor.
- Philippe Couillard
A changing education system: one that is based on success
This fall, hearings on issues related to academic success were held throughout Quebec, with a view to implementing Quebec’s first-ever academic success policy. In addition, over the last few months, the Government of Quebec announced the creation of 100 new full-time kindergarten classes for 4 year olds in disadvantaged communities. Our government will be investing almost $20 million to assist non-profit organizations to promote literacy and prevent students from dropping out of school, and $16 million to create 100 classes d’accueil to enable new immigrants to learn French. We will invest $10 million to introduce young people to culture during field trips designed for this purpose. Finally, for the benefit of the higher education network, we announced $12 million in additional funding to hire more staff, open up continuing education to more workers who are currently employed, increase training for new immigrants, and attract more international students.
Previous generations made colossal efforts to create educational opportunities for all Quebecers. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, it is our turn to discover how the way we do things can be improved or changed, so that each young person can succeed, regardless of his or her age or status. Over the last few months, our government has made major investments to ensure academic success for Quebec’s students. As a result of this funding, more than 115 school construction or expansion projects are underway, and more than 900 additional employees have been assigned to tasks involving direct services to students.
- Philippe Couillard
From talk to action
During the fall session, our government has tabled and adopted, in the National Assembly, legislation that is important for Quebec. In fact, in the last week of the session, two major bills were tabled. Bill 121 proposes the most significant decentralization of powers toward municipalities in the history of Quebec, whereas Bill 122 proposes that Montreal be granted new powers. Our government had committed itself to formally recognizing municipalities as real local governments, and offering our metropolis all the necessary tools to clearly assert its rightful role and pursue economic, social and cultural development. Over the last few months, we worked closely with our municipal partners to flesh out this vision. In addition, Bill 109, An Act to Grant Quebec City National Capital Status and Increase its Autonomy and Powers, was adopted by the National Assembly. Bill 110 was also adopted, allowing for greater control over municipal spending and the protection of taxpayers from excessive property tax increases.
We adopted bills with regard to the justice system – for example, Bill 125, which provides it with greater resources, and Bill 87, which protects whistleblowers from reprisals. With regard to the environment, we adopted Bill 104, which is designed to increase the number of zero-emission motor vehicles in Quebec; with this statute, Quebec now has one of the most severe laws in this regard in North America. The National Assembly unanimously adopted Bill 104, and it will serve as a new government action plan for fighting climate change. In order to allow Quebec society to benefit from all its talent, Bill 70 was adopted to provide greater balance between training and employment. This law will provide additional assistance to first-time welfare applicants, allowing them to fulfill their dreams. Bill 693 was adopted to amend the Act respecting State-Owned Enterprises in order to promote the presence of young people on the Boards of Directors of 23 government agencies. We also tabled (today, in fact) a bill to favour access to health care and improve the care which is provided to hospitalized patients. Our most recent legislative record is positive, and demonstrates our common goal to move our society forward while ensuring that the rights of all Quebecers are respected.
We sometimes deliberate for a long time, but when we vote in favour of the adoption of a bill, we know that we have worked together to move Quebec forward.
- Jean-Marc Fournier