CAQ's first budget has rivals calling for reinvestment into healthcare, education
Published Monday, March 18, 2019 1:46PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 18, 2019 7:27PM EDT
With the Coalition Avenir Quebec set to drop their first budget on Thursday, the Parti Quebecois’ finance critic is calling for reinvestment in social services.
With a surplus that Montreal-based think tank l’Institut de Quebec estimates at around $4 billion, the PQ’s Martin Ouellet said expectations are high for the CAQ budget, pointing to some Quebecers still not having access to a family doctor, or students who are stuck in old, crumbling schools.
He said one especially large problem is that many hospitals and long-term care facilities don’t have enough nurses.
“We need money to help nurses doing their job. They're under pressure, they have a lot of stress, so we need money to make sure that ratios are okay for health services,” he said.
The FIQ, Quebec’s largest nurses’ union, has called for a $350 million investment to continue a pilot project that boosted the number of nurses in different institutions. Ouellet said he believes the nurses’ request is a reasonable one, but also wants to see measures aimed at providing better care for seniors.
Ouellet didn’t hold back on criticizing the previous administration, saying cuts performed by the Liberals caused lasting damage to the province.
“For all Quebecers, after the Liberal austerity the damage has been done,” he said. “So it’s time now to rebuild public services – education, healthcare and, of course, the elders in the CHSLDs. We want the Legault government to put money in health services and education services.”
Among the PQ’s other demands is for the Legault government to reimburse Hydro-Quebec customers who were overcharged by the company. When the CAQ was in opposition, the party called for $1.5 billion in Hydro-Quebec revenues to be given back to customers.
However, since being elected premier, Francois Legault has refused to issue any refunds, saying he never made any promises to that during the campaign.
The exact size of the government surplus is currently under wraps, but will be released on Thursday.
The CAQ campaigned on a promise to reduce to reduce the tax burden on Quebecers – and Legault said his government will deliver.
“In our promises, we were talking about reducing school taxes, reducing also tariffs for childcare, increasing tax credits for the second and third child. We also will start presenting measures to accompany companies having projects to create well-paid jobs - and it's only a start,” he said.