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Transport minister blames municipalities for vehicle registration hike

Rainy weather in Montreal. FILE PHOTO (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News) Rainy weather in Montreal. FILE PHOTO (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News)

Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault says she had nothing to do with the decision by the Montreal metropolitan community (CMM) to raise the vehicle registration tax from $59 to $150, even though the Montreal municipalities are struggling to pay the public transit deficit.

"It's a decision made by the municipalities, a power that rests exclusively with the municipalities. (...) It has nothing to do with the government,” said the minister during a press scrum at the National Assembly on Friday.

The CMM maintains that elected officials were "forced" to raise the tax, "in order to make up for the estimated $561 million shortfall in the financial framework, following optimization efforts by the transit companies," the CMM wrote in a press release.

The CMM hints that it may reverse its decision if the Quebec government increases its contribution to public transit.

Relations are tense between the municipalities and Guilbault regarding the transit companies' deficits.

She is proposing to absorb $200 million of the deficits.

This is not enough, according to the CMM, which points to a "$38 million decrease compared with the aid for 2024, which was already far from meeting needs."

Common sense

Guilbault maintains that her government is extremely generous when it comes to public transit.

"The government has given $2.3 billion to public transit alone since the pandemic," she said. "All of Quebec's regions cannot systematically absorb half-a-billion-dollar deficits for public transit in Greater Montreal, so it's common sense."

Guilbault also pointed to the federal government's "complete disengagement".

"It doesn't fund public transit operations, and it no longer even has programs to fund public transit infrastructure," she said.

Guilbault tax

Quebec solidaire (QS) did not miss the opportunity to attack the government on Friday, speaking of a "Guilbault tax".

"There should be better funding for public transit from Ms. Guilbault. It's a bit like the Guilbault tax being proposed by the cities," said QS MNA Alexandre Leduc. "Our natural sympathy is with the municipalities. Is raising taxes the best solution? No."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 31, 2024. Top Stories

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