The Official Opposition expressed its disappointment at the 2021-2022 budget tabled by the CAQ government today. The Quebec Liberal Party had hoped that the government would seize the occasion and present a more modern vision of Quebec, one that focused on social and economic progress and that was both sustainable and technology-oriented. Yet, what was presented today had no plan for an energy transition, nor did it recognize the fundamentals of the workforce shortage issue, especially within the service industry where women form the majority. And that’s without even mentioning the fact that they announced the beginning of a series of budget cuts aimed at achieving a balanced budget which would come into force in 2 years, after the next election, without even telling us how that would be achieved.
Additionally, given that the pandemic has generated significant social impacts, we were anticipating far more concrete measures to support families in terms of daycare, academic success and home support. The implementation of a public psychotherapy program as well as the means to compensate for surgical delays should have been priorities as well, but that was not that case.
Finally, given the 7 femicides that occurred over the past 6 weeks, additional means of putting an end to domestic violence and better supporting women’s shelters would have been expected, but they too, were nowhere to be found. The Quebec Liberal Party condemns the CAQ’s silence faced with the mobilization of the whole of Quebec society in an effort to resolve this social issue
Presenting a budget is a test of a government’s vision. Today, the government failed to position Quebec in the modern world. It’s an old-school budget. We thought that the lessons learned during the pandemic would have encouraged the government to undertake the necessary changes for our collective future, our social safety net and our public services. And yet in terms of the environment, the budget it tabled today is the least ambitious budget we have seen in a long time. The conservative investments that were presented will not be able to meet growing needs in mental health, reschedule the 130,000 surgeries that have been postponed or resolve the crisis in child care services.
– André Fortin, Official Opposition Critic for Public Finance and Official Opposition House Leader
We asked the CAQ government for flexibility when it came to returning to a balanced budget over a 5-year period. They listened to our request for flexibility, but committed to a timeline too hastily given the ongoing context of the pandemic. Alternative scenarios should have been presented, as was the case in Ontario. The budget tabled by the government clearly lacks vision for the economic recovery, which should aim to be more humane, more just and more equal.
– Carlos J. Leitão, Official Opposition Critic for the Economy and the Fight Against Climate Change
In veiled terms, the CAQ government announced that in 2 years, following the next election, expenses for a majority of the State’s missions would be cut in order to achieve a balanced budget. That signifies a new round of cuts despite considerable efforts having been made over the past few years. The CAQ needs to be more transparent and offer a detailed explanation of its plan for the return to a balanced budget. Moreover, the government had promised to invest 50% of the funds earmarked for transport within the Quebec Infrastructure Plan into public transportation. For a third consecutive year the government has missed the target. Today it has become clear that it’s a broken promise.
– Gaétan Barrette, Official Opposition Critic for the Conseil du Trésor.
Recall that the Quebec Liberal Party had outstretched its hand to the government, offering the following short-term proposals:
- Family: the funds required to deploy the promised 13,500 child care places and enhancing the status of in-home child care educators to ensure that all of Quebec’s regions have solutions that are adapted to their realities.
- Mental health: implement a public psychotherapy program.
- Health: a fund dedicated for the resumption of surgical activities.
- Seniors: a tax break for better and more generous home support.
- Education: enhancing the tutoring program and planning for a $500 refundable tax credit for families to cover the cost of the resources hired by parents to support their child’s learning since the onset of the crisis.
- Economy: modulate government assistance for SMEs according to revenue loss and activity sector, offer enhanced, direct support for SMEs by doubling the eligible pardon, provide more flexibility to companies in terms of the conditions for reimbursing their loans, offer a reduced tax rate for SMEs that work in the services sector and freeze SMEs’ Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) contribution rates for one year.