Monday, July 15, 2024
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Quebec Budget Overview: Fortin talks provincial budget

Brett Thoms
Pontiac April 6, 2023
The CAQ government tabled Quebec’s 2023-2024 provincial budget on March 21. Some of the notable provisions:

  • A GDP growth projection 0.6 per cent in 2023, down from 2.8 per cent in 2022.
  • Total government spending of $148 billion in the 2023-24 fiscal year, with a budget deficit of about $4 billion.
  • A provision starting Jan. 1, 2024, which will allow Quebec workers over the age of 65 the option to stop paying into the Quebec pension plan to increase their after-tax income.
  • Healthcare spending increases by 7.7 per cent to a total of about $59 billion, including $8.7 billion from federal health transfers.
  • Education spending rises by six per cent, for a total of around $20 billion.
  • Promotion of the French language” spending of $649 million by 2028.
  • Tax cuts of one percentage point on the first two income tax brackets, (up to $49,275 for the first bracket and up to $98,540 for the second). Those receiving solidarity benefits and volunteer firefighter tax credits will also receive more money.
  • The budget is investing $194 million to support community organizations and $211.2 million to increase mental health, homelessness and addiction services.
  • In terms of public transit, the government is investing $400 million to support the recovery of public transit agencies across the province after the pandemic caused ridership to decline.
  • The government plans to invest $1 billion in housing over the next six years, with the goal of building 5,250 social and affordable housing units across the province.
    Regionally some investments include:
  • $10 million to support the forestry sector of the Outaouais and Laurentides.
  • $15 million over three years to create a province-wide tourism strategy.

Pontiac MNA André Fortin spoke to THE EQUITY about his perspective on some of the budget’s provisions.
Overall, he is not impressed with it.
“It anticipates greater government revenue and economic output than most of the banks are projecting, so the government revenue and most of the money that’s spent in the budget is based on a very optimistic and unrealistic outlook,” Fortin said. “The government has chosen to put most of the eggs into one basket, which is tax cuts.”

Fortin said that if the Quebec Liberal Party were in power, their approach to tax cuts would be far more targeted towards people with lower incomes as opposed to the more wealthy who benefit from this budget.
While Fortin did say the increase to the solidarity benefit that low-income Quebecers will receive is something he welcomes, overall he is concerned the budget is not doing enough to help the most vulnerable.
“The fact that in healthcare next year (2024) there is basically only a 2 per cent increase in the budget when we know that the year after year after costs to the system are going up 5 per cent is something that is concerning. Given the population getting older and requiring more health services, this is something that appears irresponsible.”
Regionally, Fortin said that the government is underspending in the Outaouais relative to its population in every sector but healthcare, which said is only high because of the hospital being built in Gatineau.
Fortin added that another concern he has about the budget in relation to the regional economy is the fact that the funds allocated for crop and stabilization insurance isn’t going up.
“It would have been wise for the government to put more money in not just in case we have a difficult year weather-wise, so that’s something I definitely want to keep an eye on,” said Fortin.

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