Federal budget gets positive, if cautious, reception in Quebec
MONTREAL -- Business associations, minority groups, unions and other special interests reacted to the federal Liberal's budget on Monday, with some praising its initiatives in childcare, and others saying it falls short in other areas.
Quebec Finance Minister took to Twitter to express support for the extension of pandemic economic support measures such as the Emergency Wage Subsidy, rent assistance and the Canada Economic Stimulus Benefit. But he criticized the budget for not including a permanent 35 per cent increase to healthcare funding, calling it a "missed unique opportunity."
Girard is scheduled to address the budget with the media at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault echoed those crticisms, saying in a tweet the prime minister "refused to listen to our requests."
In a statement, the Quebec Association of Childcare Centres (AQCPE) welcomed the budget's inclusion of largescale investment in afforable daycare. The budget pledges $30 billion over five years, with an aim towards a 50 per cent average reduction in fees for preschool daycare spaces next year. The government's goal is to have an average fee of $10 per day across the country, other than Quebec, which has its own system in place.
AQCPE executive director Genevieve Belisle called the inclusion “great news for families,” but said Legault must work towards making Quebec the first North American territory that offers a network of universal, affordable educational services for pre-school children.
“The Canadian government recognizes the major impact, both social and economic, of quality, accessible and affordable educational childcare programs,” she said. “There is now no obstacle for the government of Quebec to complete this vision and offer all families who want it a place in a childcare centre.”
Girard also congratulated the federal government for recognizing "the quality of the Quebec daycare service program, and we appreciate the financial compensation that must be paid for us unconditionally."
The budget was also met with approval by Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters (MEQ), which represents 1,100 manufacturers across Quebec. The group nodded in particular towards investments in the Strategic Innovation Fund, an extension of the government's wage subsidy and support for companies to transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. However, MEQ president Veronique Proulx criticized the Trudeau administration for failing to address Quebec's ongoing labour shortage.
“With this budget, the elephant in the room is certainly the lack of measures to address the labour shortage,” she said. “Quebec manufacturers are already lagging far behind in terms of productivity and with more than 17,500 vacant positions in the sector, the lack of workers will certainly be one of the biggest obstacles to sustainable growth.”
There was also a mixed reaction from the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, who welcomed $18 billion earmarked towards combatting COVID-19 among Indigenous people, education services, health and social services and other areas. But Chief Ghislain Picard said more money is needed to put towards housing.
"When we work to improve living conditions by investing in housing, we contribute, at the same time, to solving important issues on other levels, such as health, education and economic development. For example, increasing the housing stock will certainly contribute to making our communities less vulnerable in this period of pandemic,” he said.