• Stephanie O’Hanley

Vaudreuil-Soulanges MNAs’ fall session report highlights proposed logistics hub


Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols, left, and Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, right, address reporters at Nichols' Vaudreuil riding office following the close of the most recent National Assembly session.

Job creation for Vaudreuil-Soulanges was highlighted at a December 7 joint press conference held by Soulanges MNA and Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health Lucie Charlebois and Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols.

“In the past year we’ve created 70,200 full-time jobs across Quebec,” said Charlebois, pointing out 43,500 jobs were created in November alone. “These are private sector jobs that generate income.” She said the Quebec government balanced its books this year without sacrificing public services.

Both Charlebois and Nichols said Quebec’s Maritime Strategy and Bill 85, proposed legislation tabled last week in the National Assembly, which aims to create logistics hubs in Les Cèdres and Contrecoeur and an economic development corridor along Highway 30 as part of the strategy, will benefit Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Nichols said Vaudreuil-Soulanges urgently needs a logistics hub. “People tell us it’s too complicated to develop in Quebec and they head to Cornwall instead... Bill 85 would create a one-stop shop to encourage businesses to set up here. For Vaudreuil-Soulanges this would translate into 12,000 new jobs with salaries averaging $55,000 a year, including engineering and technician jobs,” she said.

“The logistics hub makes it possible to keep people here,” said Charlebois. “Living near their workplace gives people more time with their families and helps the local economy since people will spend more locally.”

Details, including job sectors and types, will depend on which companies decide to set up shop, Charlebois said, noting the proposed legislation will be subject to consultations.

Both MNAs accused the Parti Québécois of spreading misinformation that farmers’ lands would be expropriated to create logistics hubs. “There won’t be any expropriation,” Charlebois said, pointing out much of the earmarked land belongs to the government or was acquired from Canadian Pacific and is identified on a map tabled with the bill. “The PQ wanted everything at Contrecoeur. We want to create jobs no matter where they are,” she said.

On the education front, Charlebois said this winter the government will hire 600 new teachers and 200 professionals for students with learning difficulties. Added Nichols, “A balanced budget allows us to make choices...I feel our caucus is making education a priority.”

The government’s education reform bill, Bill 86, gives more power not just to schools and school administrations but also to parents, Nichols said. As for the cancellation of school board elections, Nichols said school boards were consulted, and Charlebois said the government consulted as many people as possible. “The bill takes into account the rights and concerns of Anglophones,” she said.

Both MNAs said the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital file is progressing. Nichols pointed out Premier Philippe Couillard recently repeated in caucus he wants to see a hospital in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and Charlebois said the hospital is part of the government’s health care strategy for the Montéregie and Montreal.

Charlebois, who sits on a provincial inter-ministerial committee to welcome Syrian refugees, said Quebec expects to receive 3,650 refugees this year and another 3,650 in 2016. The health of refugees will be assessed before their arrival, Charlebois said. “These are people who are well educated, they’re going to contribute to our society, the majority are sponsored,” she said adding the refugees are undergoing a tough security screening process.

Unlike the abolished federal firearms registry, Bill 64, tabled at the end of the fall session to create a gun registry for Quebec, won’t involve fees, Charlebois said. “Following Dawson and the École Polytechnique (shootings) we can’t leave Quebec without a firearms registry. I want to reassure people that it’s really so the police can know where the guns are in situations where they have to intervene.”

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