Mixed reactions from special-interest groups over PQ budget
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:03PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 6:59PM EST
MONTREAL - The Parti Quebecois' plan to cut infrastructure spending by $9 billion over the next five years is not going over well with construction companies.
Members of the construction industry said Wednesday that they are worried that the major cuts will mean job losses and an economic slowdown.
From the crumbling Turcot Interchange to the Ville-Marie Expressway, Montreal's infrastructure is clearly showing its age.
Quebec has committed billions of dollars in necessary and sometimes urgent repairs, but to help balance the province's books, the province is now putting the brakes on new projects.
It is cutting $1.5 billion per year from infrastructure spending.
“We are anticipating that a cut of that amount of money into infrastructure is probably going to slow the economy again,” said Jean-Philippe Cliche, a Quebec Construction Association economist
The province's economy is already sluggish, and the cut will hurt, he said.
“There's no doubt about that. Some school projects, some hospitals projects are going to probably be delayed, and even our infrastructure, road infrastructure as well. It will create losses into the job market,” he said.
Rest of business community pleased with centrist budget
The business community is expressing relief that the Parti Quebecois government shelved many of its election promises to produce the provincial budget.
Assessments prepared by financial institutions after Tuesday's budget praise the new PQ government for dialing down its left-leaning program to tackle pressing economic concerns.
Investor updates are welcoming the government's plan to eliminate the deficit in 2013-14, reduce the debt, cut program spending and introduce tax increases for wealthier income earners.
Tuition freeze brings mixed reaction
The PQ also kept its promise to freeze tuition fees.
The freeze leaves universities unsure of how or when they will be compensated for the loss of revenue, said McGill economics professor William Watson.
“To compete in the world university market, they need more money, and so just holding things constant in real terms is just not going to do it,” he said.
Student leader Matine Desjardins of the Quebec university student union FEUQ said that’s simply untrue.
“They need to prove this, because they don't have numbers,” she said.
Desjardins said that's why it’s important a summit is held next year to examine university financing to determine how universities are funded and at what level.
Alienating PQ voters?
Observers are warning the PQ's surprisingly centrist budget could come with a political price: the potential alienation of its base.
The party had spent much of the campaign courting voters of the left-wing Quebec solidaire party -- and that party is now saying voters have been betrayed by the PQ.
With a report from the Canadian Press