Montreal and special interest groups' reactions mixed after Quebec budget
MONTREAL -- The City of Montreal and other special interest groups reacted with surprise, delight, and, at times, disappointment after Quebec unveiled its budget on Thursday.
Overall, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said she is happy with Quebec's budget, but she feels there were some missed opportunities when it comes to getting the city back on its feet.
"Knowing Montreal was the epicentre of COVID, I would have liked to see a very strong signal," said Plante on Thursday. "Especially in the East as we will be moving forward with the REM de l'Est. So we need to decontaminate."
Montreal is mentioned just 25 times in the entire 500-page budget.
For the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, investment in a number of sectors, including infrastructure and education, means dollars will naturally come to the city.
"Whenever there's money for tourism, there's money for Montreal. Whenever there's money for culture and festivals, clearly there's money for Montreal," said Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Michel Leblanc.
Concordia economics professor Anthony Noce said there were a few unexpected goodies like a slight corporate tax cut for small businesses, which could be part of the CAQ government's long game to deal with the $12.3 billion deficit.
"If I had to grade this budget I would give it an A minus," said Noce. "If inflation does take hold in the next year or two, the debt becomes less burdensome for the government. Remember next year is an election, so they may be saving some goodies."
Another unexpected area of funding was the $4 million for English-speaking Quebecers, money the Quebec Community Group Network (QCGN) expects to help get English speakers better access to government services.
"To gather actual statistical data that can be used to determine where the gaps are, where we need help," said QCGN president Marlene Jennings.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, those in the health-care network are hoping that the investments and job creation funding are long-term.
"How are we going to attract nurses, how are we going to keep them?" asked Dr. Sophie Zhang, a long-term care physician.
"The pandemic didn't create any problems, it compounded them, it amplified them, (and) it would be a shame for sure if we didn't learn a lesson from this."