Montréal, February 2, 2017 ‒ As part of prebudget consultations conducted by Quebec’s Minister of Finance, Carlos Leitão, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal calls on the government to adopt a balanced approach to using its budget surplus and make major reinvestments in education, from primary school to university, and in strategic infrastructures for the city.
Getting the most out of the budget surplus: a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 approach ‒ “Quebec can now build on a base of solid public finances and a more robust economy,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. “The Chamber encourages the government to balance how it uses its newfound financial leeway to stimulate the Quebec economy, where, unfortunately, we have one of the heaviest tax burdens in North America. This is why we call on the government to split the surplus between three major priorities: debt reduction, tax cuts and a significant reinvestment in education and strategic infrastructures.”
Make education the priority for the 2017 budget ‒ “Education, from primary school to university, must be the government’s budget priority,” Michel Leblanc said. “The quality of early childhood education is one of the most decisive factors for young people staying in school and succeeding. We need to do everything we can to offer our students an appropriate learning environment. For example, the condition of the infrastructure in many schools in Montréal school boards is a concern. Funding needs to be made available to address this.”
“It is also paramount that the government adopt a discourse and an approach that help promote our universities and that it ensure they are appropriately funded,” Michel Leblanc said. “In a knowledge economy like ours, access to qualified labour is a priority for Montréal businesses and decisive for companies considering opening their doors here. A recent Chamber study clearly showed the incredible contribution universities and graduates make to productivity and wealth creation. Montréal is a world-calibre university city. This is a major asset for the city and the province. The next budget needs to send a strong signal of support for local universities.”
Build on the successful integration of immigrants ‒ “Too many immigrants have a hard time finding a job in Quebec, even those who hold degrees and have skills that are in demand,” Mr. Leblanc said. “This waste of talent has to stop, particularly since Quebec is facing a shortage of skilled labour and an aging population. Clearly we can do better. We recommend the government increase its support for initiatives that allow immigrants to obtain initial work experience in Quebec. We also encourage the minister to increase funding for the francization of immigrants.”
Invest in the city’s strategic infrastructures ‒ “The state of Montréal infrastructures and serious traffic issues erode our competitiveness and productivity,” Michel Leblanc said. “This budget needs to put money toward public transit, and the government must ensure that major projects are completed on schedule. This is why the REM, a structuring project for the city, has to happen as soon as possible.”
“Additionally the Port of Montreal needs an adequate, effective infrastructure, which includes extending De l’Assomption Blvd.,” Michel Leblanc said. “This is essential to the city playing its role as a North American hub for shipping and logistics. Each additional delay results in costs and lost productivity for companies, and, in turn, for society.”
The Chamber’s detailed prebudget recommendations can be consulted by clicking here (in French only).
About the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM)
With a network of over 7,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.
Advisor, Media Relations
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4042
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