Pre-election budget calls for higher daycare fees, balanced books by '16

Finance minister Nicolas Marceau.

Quebec is ticking closer to an election, as the Parti Quebecois brings down a budget that the two major parties already say they will oppose.

The PQ is planning to increase daycare fees, and introduce cuts to the public sector, although the finance minister did not release the details of how and who would be hit.

"We don't want to finish that work without being sure that the budget is adopted," minister Nicolas Marceau explained why he did not release the section of the budget that would details which sectors would be the targets for cuts.

Daycare fees go up

In what François Legault is calling a "budget against the family," the Parti Quebecois says its government will increase daycare fees to 8-dollars-a-day in September, and 9-dollars-a-day the following year, to be indexed after that.

That adds up to an extra $500 in costs per child per year.

"That's a lot o money for a lot of people. even more for those who have a lot of kids," Simon Tremblay-Pepin, a researcher with the IRIS socio-economic research institute.

"It's a budget of dreadful chocies," he says.

Cuts in health care

The association of Quebec's health care agencies says, while this budget will set aside an extra 3% in spending for the sector, health care needs an extra 4.4 % just to cover the current costs.

The Director General says health agencies are now facing a $600 million shortfall in funding.

"As long as that minimum to maintain the quality of services is not there, it will translate into cuts," says Diane Lavallée.

Many unions are repeating the same concerns, saying that the PQ's cap on spending will not cover inflation and salary increases.

"I don't know where there's more fat to cut," Christian Daigle the first vice-president SFPQ, a public service union.

Must control spending

Minister Nicolas Marceau says his government is acting responsibly.

He says parents will still only pay 16 per cent of the cost of daycare, and that Quebec will continue spending more per capita on health care than in Ontario.

He says he is not producing a break-down of his funding cuts in order to help his budget pass in the National Assembly.

"We don't want to finish that work in order to ensure that the budget is adopted," he says.

Both the Liberals and CAQ have said they will vote against this budget.

Although that does not guarantee they would force Quebec into an election, since some MNAs could always absent themselves from a vote, their stance makes Quebec's election chances even more likely.

Highlights of Quebec's 2014-15 budget

• Deficit: $1.75 billion on revenue of $71.6 billion; projected balanced budget in 2015-16.
• Gross debt: Projected at $205.6 billion as of March 31, 2015, or 54.4 per cent of gross domestic product.
• Government spending: Growth of two per cent in each of 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
• Daycare: Increases to $8 a day, in September 2014, from $7; climbs to $9 in September 2015 and will be indexed in subsequent years.
• Housing: $270 million for 3,250 new social units, including 500 for the homeless.
• Non-resident students: Tuition fees and exemptions for students from outside Quebec will be reviewed.
• Firefighters: In the wake of the Lac-Megantic and L'Isle-Verte tragedies, $4 million to provide training for part-time volunteer firefighters.
• Income tax: No new hikes.
• Physicians and government employees: Government promises ''responsible'' negotiations when their contracts expire March 31, 2015; says salaries must take into account what taxpayers can afford.

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  1. Harry posted on 02/20/2014 05:06 PM
    This PQ Governent keeps refering to themselves as a "Responsible" Government, as if they are trying to convince themselves of it. Without releasing the rest of the budget it is half a document, and they are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate.
  2. Roger posted on 02/20/2014 05:47 PM
    Is this budget based on the money coming from Ottawa, which includes the 9.6 billion from Alberta to date? Because if the PQ is going to yak separation, then they may want to consider that they will be cut off and not have that money anymore....just saying. What a bunch of maroons.
  3. LMAO posted on 02/20/2014 10:14 PM
    This guy writes such great comedy they should sign him up for the late show.
  4. George73 posted on 02/21/2014 03:44 PM
    Marcel Marceau.

    The PQ finance minister may as well be a street mime for all the credibility he has after the AG audit.
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