Leitao, Weil meet with Anglo groups for budget feedback
With Quebec’s next budget just around the corner, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao asked Anglophone communities how the government should be spending its money on Wednesday.
Leitao and Minister for English-Speaking Quebecers Kathleen Weil held a private meeting with several groups at McGill University. It’s part of a series of consultations to prepare for the budget, which will be released in several weeks.
The Quebec Community Groups Network, which was at the meeting, welcomed the news, but noted that there isn’t much time for any feedback to find its way into the budget.
Eric Maldoff, chair of the QCGN's health and social services committee, called the meeting "excellent," but said funding for Anglophone organizations is a major issue.
"The messages being passed to the minister boil down quite simply," he said. "They want more money to go to the secretariat the government established so it can be more muscular and effective in dealing with insuring services that should be available and rights we do have are delivered and respected."
Weil said an expansion of the secretariat is a definite possibility.
"There's precedence in government where you start off with a small secretariat and it grows as it fulfills its mandate," she said. "You wouldn't be able to start off with a huge budget, you wouldn't be able to spend that money wisely. You need some time to grow."
On Tuesday, members of the QCGN raised concerns that with the budget presentation rapidly approaching, there isn't much time to incorporate suggestions from the meeting. Maldoff noted that there may be some extra year-end money in the budget, some of which could be allocated to the ideas presented and didn't believe the budget was yet written in stone.
Leitao called the budget "not the end of the process, it's the start of the process."
"Following the budget, there will be a plan of action our colleagues will put in place," he said. "Don't see the budget as the end of the process."
It’s the latest outreach move made by the Liberal government in advance of October's provincial election. Last month, Weil held a forum with several Anglophone groups in Montreal. During that meeting, Weil spoke about the budget and promised Leitao would meet with them.