Throughout its history, the Quebec Liberal Party has held that economic prosperity is fundamental to ensuring fulfilling lives for the members of our society.
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Philippe Couillard’s government is a prime example of this mentality, as can be seen through its significant economic success, especially when it comes to employment. The unemployment rate is now below 7%, which hasn’t been seen for several decades. This fact is stated not to boast of our achievements, but simply to point out that our government has created the conditions conducive to restoring entrepreneur and investor confidence, thereby bolstering the labour market despite an uncertain global economic context. Quebec now ranks highest among Canadian provinces in private sector job creation since the government of Philippe Couillard came to power in 2014.
The economy is a constant concern for the Quebec Liberal Party. Accordingly, Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government has remained committed, throughout its mandate, to stimulating our competitiveness to support our exports and pursuing major development projects that will be landmarks in Quebec’s history.
The economy: A constant concern for the Quebec Liberal Party
Since its inception, the Liberal Party has always held that economic freedom comes first among liberties. In Quebec, Liberal governments have always worked to create a business-friendly environment through measured but effective government intervention.
More broadly, we wish to present a visionary economic plan to tackle the challenges of globalization and international competition.
Consequently, we have chosen to base Quebec’s economic development on three main pillars: entrepreneurship, innovative manufacturing and exports.
The government intends more than ever to make entrepreneurship a major component of our growing economy. To get started, we devised our Entrepreneurship Action Plan effective in June-July 2017. Additional credits of $70 million have been extended for this plan, raising budgetary efforts to $440 million over the next 5 years. What’s more, since we came to power, we have strived to lessen the tax burden on small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). To do so, the 2017-2018 budget includes measures totalling $620 million. Tax relief measures for transferring family businesses, which until now reserved for agricultural and manufacturing businesses, will now be applicable to all sectors.
In April 2016, $700 million was announced to support innovative manufacturing; in other words, to help our manufacturing businesses with modernization. A tour of Quebec’s 17 regions with all manufacturing stakeholders took place following this announcement. We met with 2,000 businesses and organizations and supported 240 modernization projects, with investments totalling $2.3 billion, $400 million of which was provided by the government, with $1.9 billion provided by the private sector.
Following this success, the government decided to add $125 million, for a total of $825 million. To ensure their future competitiveness, manufacturing businesses must invest immediately to improve their procedures, their products and how they conduct their businesses. The manufacturing sector represents 14% of Quebec’s GDP and employs more than 800,000 people.
Innovation is essential for the manufacturing sector, as it is for all sectors of activity. That’s why this government is investing more in research and innovation than any previous government. Three major initiatives have just been announced:
- $585 million for the Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy
- $205 million for the Quebec Life Science Strategy
- $100 million for the creation of a Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute
It is through innovation that our businesses will be able to enter new markets, an essential condition to ensure their growth. The 2016-2020 Quebec Export Strategy, launched on October 24, 2016, provides for investments of $536.8 million to help businesses export more. The goal is to accompany 4,000 businesses over the next 4 years to help them reach 10% growth. Steps have already been introduced to achieve this goal. The Accelerated Growth Center was created to help approximately 40 Quebec businesses to boost their exports to the Unites States, our major commercial partner. The Export Strategy will also add seven commercial attachés in the U.S. to support businesses and help them develop their business relations.
New measures to boost our employment rates and improve our vocational training system are also necessary to bolster our economy, because in an ever-changing world, we must support our workers even more.
Finally, the Quebec Liberal Party has always valued talent from abroad. Far from the populist positions of our opponents on this subject, we consider immigration as a real opportunity. We must make sure we give newcomers the means to successfully integrate into our society.
Development strategies for all of Quebec’s regions
The Quebec Liberal Party holds that economic prosperity starts with productive regions. In order to avoid disparities in economic development between urban centres and regions, it is fundamental to develop major projects that make our entire province attractive.
The Plan Nord
In keeping with Robert Bourassa’s development of James Bay, in April 2015 the Couillard government decided to revive Plan Nord. Initiated by Jean Charest, the plan aims to sustainably develop northern Quebec. The government is simultaneously counting on private sector investment and community support to reach its goal. Plan Nord covers an immense territory, representing 80% of our province. This vast worksite will create 10,000 jobs during construction and just as many during operation. It will attract private investments of $22 billion throughout Quebec and will generate more than $2.2 billion in tax revenue, while stimulating research and development in the mining sector. With regard to the environment, Plan Nord will help protect the distinctive biodiversity of Northern Quebec by dedicating 50% of the Plan Nord territory as protected habitats by 2035. The entire plan will be put in place through an inclusive and respectful approach managed in close collaboration with Aboriginal peoples. In addition, it should be noted that northern Quebec’s development will have positive effects on industries in the south of the province; therefore, the entire province will benefit from Plan Nord’s spinoffs.
The Maritime Strategy
Simultaneously, the Maritime Strategy was launched in June 2015 to strengthen the advantageous geographical position that has made Quebec the preferred point of entry for northeastern North America’s major markets. The strategy is intended to sustainably develop our maritime economy while protecting our marine territory’s ecosystems and improving our citizens’ standard of living. By 2030, the Maritime Strategy should create 30,000 new jobs, generate $9 billion of private and public investment and significantly boost imports and exports. This strategy will mobilize the entirety of Quebec’s territory, from Ungava Bay to James Bay and from Blanc-Sablon to the Montérégie region.
The Maritime Strategy was developed after a major consultation process held throughout Quebec since April 2015. We must emphasize the expertise that exists in our regions and the enormous potential of the Saint Lawrence River. The Maritime Strategy, with Plan Nord, is the cornerstone of our economic recovery, especially with the creation of 30,000 jobs by 2030.
– Jean D’Amour
Digital Economy Action Plan
In order to accelerate the digitization of Quebec’s economy, essential to its international competitiveness, Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government presented, through the intercession of Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, the Digital Economy Action Plan in the spring of 2016.
This ambitious plan includes 28 measures divided into five main intervention categories. From a financial point of view, the Government will invest close to $200 million over the next five years, to:
- Stimulate innovation through digital technology and data;
- Accelerate businesses’ digital transformation and adoption of e-commerce;
- Strengthen the position of the ICT sector as a world leader;
- Gain the required digital skills;
- Ensure an attractive and favourable business environment for digital technology deployment.
The total investment will reach $300 million, since the success of the plan requires the implementation of new types of digital infrastructure. Thus, to the $200 million already announced, an additional $100 million will be applied to the plan. This significant financial investment reflects our commitment to ensuring balanced economic development in Quebec, but also to reducing the distances between urban centres and peripheral communities. Households and businesses will both benefit from the potential brought about by this digital transition.
The Digital Economy Action Plan is a first effort to facilitate and support Quebec businesses’ transition to digital. We want to develop a high-calibre digital economy that is open to world markets and renowned for its knowledge, its ecosystem and its innovation.
– Dominique Anglade
Click here to learn more about Quebec’s Digital Strategy.
Questions and Answers
- The Liberal government has pledged additional investments of $3.6 billion by 2020-2021 to aid Quebec’s economy.
- The government is supporting Quebec’s economy in order to create conditions favourable to economic development, private investment and the creation of quality jobs in all regions, thanks to Plan Nord, the Maritime Strategy, the Digital Economy Action Plan and the development of the aerospace industry.
- Several measures were designed to encourage all Quebecers’ participation in the labour market, including rate increases for the work premium and reducing the age of eligibility for the experienced worker’s tax credit to 62 years.
- Support for investment and innovation was also pledged, with a tax reduction for innovative companies amounting to $135 million, as well as a $162 million investment to implement the Digital Economy Action Plan.
- The transition to a clean economy will be continued through the rehabilitation of mining sites (investments of $620 million), the RénoVert tax credit (20% for eco-friendly residential renovation and tax incentives for educational institutions to go green, among others).
- Increased support for Quebec SMBs has also been announced, including the government’s willingness to reduce payroll taxes, support exports, introduce new rules to facilitate family business transfer and reduce contributions to the health services fund. All these measures have been put in place to promote the growth, innovation and competitiveness of Quebec businesses.
- Implementation of a tax shield and enhancement of the tax credit for experienced workers to encourage additional work effort.
- A better match between training and jobs with the reduction of the administrative burden of businesses, the implementation of the Objectif emploi program and the enhancement of the workplace apprenticeship program.
- 27 million dollars over five years to implement a new action plan for the social economy.
- Gradual reduction of taxes on businesses to make the tax system more favourable to investment, in particular with a gradual decrease in the general corporate tax rate from 11.9% to 11.5% and a reduction, from 8% to 4%, of the tax rate for SMBs in the primary sector, including forestry, fishing and agriculture.
- Investments of $2 million per year to groom the next generation of entrepreneurs and support mentoring.
- Tax relief to foster the transfer of family businesses in the primary and manufacturing sectors.
- Establishment of the Créativité Québec program to support innovation and performance within SMBs.
- Additional deductions for transportation costs of manufacturing SMBs in remote areas to boost exports.
- Support for entrepreneurship with grants of $500,000 per year for 3 years for academic entrepreneurship centres and $9.5 million over 5 years to strengthen the Femmessor Network.
- Reduction of regulatory costs imposed on businesses to alleviate businesses’ administrative burdens.
- $570 million in 2014-2015 for forestry work and for forest development and management to support the forestry industry.
A: That’s the goal of the 2016-2020 Quebec Export Strategy. We have pledged $536.8 million, of which $125.6 million in new funding was provided for implementation over the next four years.
Specifically, this strategy will support SMBs with several main measures:
- A $25 million increase in financial support for businesses to facilitate product and service marketing in external markets through the Export Program ($21 million) and the Export Fund of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation ($4 million).
- Measures to support businesses in their shift towards e-commerce as a strategy to enter foreign markets.
- Increase in the financial support to establish a technology showcase.
- Tax relief for large innovative companies, representing $88.1 million over the next four years.
- An increase in specialized commercial attachés in the network of Quebec representatives in Canada and abroad.
- The improvement of business opportunity dissemination and business intelligence tools related to sector-specific markets, major international clients, trade agreements, and others.
To consult the 2016-2020 Quebec Export Strategy, visit economie.gouv.qc.ca/oserexporter.