Quebec, March 21, 2019. —Premier François Legault has promised significant tax breaks for the middle class. Today, it is clear that Quebec taxpayers are going to be disappointed. Despite the significant leeway that was made available to the CAQ, all we got were partial undertakings and broken promises.
School tax reform will cause a loss of $900M in revenue within the education network. Yet, the budget only provides for $200M to compensate for the loss of revenues for our schools. Quebecers will have to wait until the next budget to see whether the government really intends to honour its commitment.
For the time being, the gradual elimination of the additional contribution for child care is only for families that are better off financially.
They have abandoned the Réno-Vert Program, which offered financial support for eco-friendly renovations. It is an unjustified decision that directly affects families who benefitted from it.
For months, the Premier has been hammering that education will be the government’s first priority. Today, we have proof that it isn’t the case. The Minister of Finance has confirmed that only 3000 4 year-old kindergarten classes will be created, instead of the 5000 that were promised during the election campaign.
In terms of health, a 5.4% increase to health expenditures is far from what is required to fund the CAQ’s new initiatives, in addition to ensuring system costs.
Nurses and beneficiary assistants have also been left in the lurch. Nowhere in the budget is there talk of extending the ratio projects throughout all of Quebec’s regions and an increase to beneficiary attendants’ salaries is not mentioned at all.
The government benefitted from an enviable financial situation which allowed it to put words into actions. The problem is that the Premier made so many promises that the Finance Minister had to sprinkle the available funds around to give the impression of respecting their numerous commitments.
Reducing the wealth gap between Quebec and Ontario has been a central part of the Premier’s rhetoric for a number of years. However, in his budget, the Minister of Finance anticipates a slowdown in private investments in 2020.
In the medium term, it raises questions about maintaining a balanced budget. This year growth and spending are on the rise, but for the subsequent years we observe a significant deceleration. The government needs to choose between abandoning its promises, making cut backs and increasing taxes and income tax for taxpayers. Today we can’t help but wonder what has happened to the CAQ effect.
– Carlos J. Leitão, MNA representing Robert-Baldwin and Official Opposition Critic for Finance