Quebec unions to lobby for more health care spending
Quebec's third-largest union is preparing to lobby hard in 2017 for major funding to health care and education.
The CSQ outlined ten priorities for the upcoming year, including pressuring the provincial government to spend more on those two sectors of the economy.
It argues the budgetary surplus comes as a direct result of making cuts to health and social services in Quebec, and is now suspicious of how the money saved will be spent.
"These austerity measures affect so many of our members, and the population of course, so we have to work to find solutions and propose solutions," said Daniel Lafreniere, spokesperson for the union.
He expressed concern that money being spent in the coming year is less than what was being spent in key areas before the Liberal party came to power.
"We called Philippe Couillard the demolisher of public services," said Lafreniere.
The union says Quebec cut spending on education by $1.3 billion, while the province increased the budget on education by 0.9 percent in 2015-2016, and by 3 percent in 2016-2017.
Quebec was one of only two provinces to not run a deficit in 2015-2016, due in part to an increase in federal transfer payments and collecting more income and commercial tax revenue.
Quebec posted a $1.8 billion surplus, but the union argues that it was really a surplus of $3.6 billion.
Now, the CSQ is worried people will be swayed by provincial spending in the year leading up to an election.
"He said he will invest some money but it's not at the same level, and the same in health and social services," said Lafreniere.
"The speech will be a kind of masquerade just before the election, but the money didn't come back."
In the coming year the CSQ and other unions will also work toward increasing minimum wage.
The union is also preparing for contract negotiations involving CPE workers, and vying to improve services for children in daycares.
The CSQ represents 130,000 public sector workers and 70,000 private employees in Quebec.