Recent Quebec budget’s effect on Vaudreuil-Soulanges
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JAMES ARMSTRONG
Improved access to health care services in Vaudreuil-Soulanges is part of the Liberal 2018 budget according to Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, pictured above at last week’s announcement of the expansion of the area hospital project.
Quebec’s recent economic success and its connection to the Liberal government’s fiscal policies were on the mind of Member of the National Assembly for Soulanges Lucie Charlebois.
“I’m very impressed with Carlos’ budget,” she said of Finance Minister Carlos J. Leitão during an interview with The Journal April 3. “He improved the quality of life for everyone, from young people to the elderly.” The budget was presented to the Quebec National Assembly on Tuesday, March 27.
Charlebois emphasized her government’s recent fiscal record of four balanced budgets, long-term debt reduction, and reduction of taxes. She said this was balanced with infrastructure improvements, increased employment and improved access to health care and social services.
She noted the construction project of the new hospital in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region was included in the budget as promised by Premier Philippe Couillard when the announcement was made in mid-March. The hospital is a long-term project scheduled for completion in 2026-2027. The 404-bed hospital will provide health care and services to more than 200,000 people in the western part of the Montérégie region according to the budget.
In the interim, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette promised two ‘super clinics’ for the region that will provide health care services seven days per week, 12 hours per day. “We have to invest in our services, such as health and education, for the future,” she said. According to the budget, the government is committed to an annual growth rate of four percent for spending on health and social services.
Economic growth and employment
Charlebois reiterated the budget phrase that Quebec’s economy is at full throttle noting the employment rate is at an all-time high to the point that employees are lacking in various sectors. The factors driving economic growth stem from sound fiscal policy contributing to consumer and business confidence.
Charlebois said paying part of Quebec’s long-term debt had improved its financial rating. The economic result is that families benefit from a strong labour market and increased wages coupled with tax cuts by the Quebec government. Charlebois added investment by business owners has increased and exports to major trading partners continues to grow.
The budget earmarks $368 million to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in all the regions of the province. She declined to comment on the upcoming trade negotiations between Canada and the United States other than to say there would be an effect on all parties involved.
School tax system reform
“We want to have the lowest rate of school tax possible in each region,” said Charlebois. To that end, the government has designated $499 million to further reform the school tax system. She noted that reform would not take place at the expense of imperiling the quality of education for young people. “Whether it’s at the secondary school level or technical or professional training, we must invest in the education of our youth,” said Charlebois.
The government has made an ongoing financial commitment to support Quebec culture. The budget notes that culture makes a significant contribution to the province’s economy. In 2016, that contribution reached $12.8 billion or four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Program spending by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications is projected to reach $778.3 million in 2018-2019, an increase of 11 per cent over 2017.
“The focus is on bringing culture and youth closer together,” said Charlebois. When asked if Anglophone cultural institutions in the region would receive equal support to their Francophone counterparts, she declared they would.
The 2018 Quebec Economic Plan includes additional funds of close to $509 million to implement cultural policy. Details of the measures and implementation will be announced soon.
“It’s a good budget because it touches everything,” stated Charlebois. “It looks after the economy, the debt, services and infrastructure.”