Protesters rally against austerity cuts for day two of week of action
Published Monday, February 23, 2015 2:50PM EST
A coalition of groups opposing the Quebec governments austerity measures rallied in front of the Premier's Montreal offices on the second day of a week of protests.
On Monday hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the premier's office in Montreal, then began marching through the downtown core during the lunch hour.
Among Monday's protesters was Patrick Blair, a student.
"I'm here to defend public services that are supposed to help the average person have a good standard of living, to have a good education, to have a good job," said Blair.
He and other protesters are expecting more demonstrations during the spring if the Liberal government continues to cut costs.
Among the protesters was Quebec Solidaire MNA Manon Massé, who said the finance minister should look to corporations for revenue, instead of cutting services to citizens.
"How come he never wants to stand up to the pharmaceuticals?" demanded Massé.
"That's a problem for us. They always take from the people's pockets and not in others pockets."
"The banks are going to make this year more than $6 billion in profit. How come the government doesn't want to go and get the money there?"
The coalition of health, education, and social service workers said the cuts already implemented are having a negative effect.
Kim De Baene said she is seeing those effects firsthand.
"They are actually applying austerity measures to people that actually need the essential services," said De Baene.
She also urged the provincial government to increase taxes on corporations.
"There's a way to get money to [make] our public services healthier, and one of the ways is to bring back the capital services tax... which could help us to get $600 million," said De Baene.
Thep protest groups are planning dozens of other "disruptive acts" across the province this week in the hope the government will halt its plans to reduce government spending.
If they don't see signs of change they will hold a large protest on April 2 in hopes of kicking off a spring protest movement similar to the student-led protests of 2012.
Parti Quebecois MNA Bernard Drainville said he believed balancing the budget was an admirable goal, but felt the Couillard government was acting too fast.
"I'm not questioning the need to reach the zero deficit but the time frame they have given themselves is completely ridiculous," said Drainville.
He was a cabinet minister during a PQ government that promised a balanced budget by 2014, but had to abandon that promise when spending ballooned under then-Premier Pauline Marois to a $2.5 billion deficit.
In the months before the 2014 election then-finance minister Nicolas Marceau promised to balance the budget by 2016.
Liberal finance minister Carlos Leitao has made the same promise of seeking a balance budget by 2015-2016.
Meanwhile on Monday the provincial government acknowledged the protesters by saying people have a right to protest, but said it is not going to change course because it believes the majority of Quebecers want a responsible and balanced budget.