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24 May 2020

For a Sustainable Recovery: Rebuilding Better


As Quebec’s deconfinement starts to take shape, our attention must turn to the future. While the need for vigilance about health remains the immediate priority, today Quebec society also requires leadership capable of painting a clear and modern picture of what post-COVID will look like. 

Entire facets of our society have been shaken. Latent social vulnerabilities and factures have been exposed to the light of day. With the progressive return to a new normal, we cannot simply avert our gaze and go back as though nothing has happened. On the contrary, we must quickly reflect on ways to improve our resilience in order to face economic, social and environmental challenges.

Over the course of the past year, I roamed throughout all of Quebec’s regions to meet with people, listen to them, and talk to them about the kind of modern, unifying leadership that I aspire to as the new leader of the QLP. I learned a fundamental lesson from those meetings; Quebecers want to unite behind an inspiring societal project. The COVID-19 crisis has caused very significant negative impacts, but we should seize the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, and to work together to rebuild better with a sustainable recovery project as our foundation.

Once the hurricane that is currently hitting our health-care network, and our long-term health-care facilities in particular, passes, it will be imperative to ensure that people, rather than concrete structures or bureaucracy, are primary at the heart of our recovery. Organizing care, human relationships and dignity for the elderly must be a priority. Investments for building seniors’ homes will not be enough. Above all, we must invest and rethink everything in terms of promoting intergenerational arrangements, home care, social geriatrics, support for informal caregivers and the community sector’s resilience. All things that can help break isolation, solitude and vulnerability.

Confinement inevitably made the Internet our main window to the outside world. It was true before the crisis, but the reality is all the more compelling today; we must hasten the local economy’s adaptation to the digital world. We need to speed up coaching for retail businesses in their transition to e-commerce and better support companies who adopt remote working. We must ensure that all of our regions have high-quality digital connectivity. We need to showcase our artists on digital platforms while ensuring that Internet giants pay their fair share, and we need to build on the Quebec nation’s immense sense of solidarity to make buying local a genuine business opportunity.

Our farmers are currently in distress and that is why they require help immediately so that they can maintain production. They deserve to see their quality products shine on our shelves and tables, in a spirit of increased food self-sufficiency.

Rebuilding better also means taking a courageous stance when it comes to climate change. Recovery must be based on an Economic Pact for the Climate. As we pursue our decarbonization objective, we need to use all of the State’s financial and taxation leverage to make the environment a real driving force for economic and social development.

Finally, there is an urgent need for financial support for our culture and tourism industries. While many activity sectors are preparing for deconfinement, theatres, film sets, festivals, restaurants, inns, sports teams and thousands of other treasures in Quebec remain in uncertainty. We need to support our culture for the duration of the crisis and find sustainable solutions. The virus will certainly change many aspects of our lives; these changes weakening our collective identity is simply out of the question.

As more or less normal life gets back on track, the government needs to make its vision known and present its priorities in a clear manner. What will the government’s recovery plan be? As it stands now, nobody knows. Personally, I strongly believe that a sustainable recovery plan- which sees economic, social and environmental issues as inextricably linked- constitutes the best means for Quebec to come out of this crisis stronger and more united. That is the path that I would like to offer Quebecers.

Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party