Montreal, February 7, 2001 - The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal finds it unacceptable that the Quebec Government is contemplating cancelling the performance contracts signed with Quebec's universities guaranteeing them additional funds in return for results-driven management. "The ink has not even dried on the contracts, and the government is talking about not respecting them. This is unacceptable, " states Board of Trade president Normand Legault.
"Quebec's universities, and those of Metropolitan Montreal in particular, are the driving force of our economy. We expect them to provide the well-educated human resources that we need to develop Metropolitan Montreal and Quebec. The Board of Trade has noted over the past few years that they were clearly under-funded compared to other Canadian and North American universities of calibre. It therefore asked the government to remedy the situation and extended its congratulations when it did so in its 2000 budget."
"We fail to see what could have changed in Quebec's financial situation. Economic and taxation data were already well known at the time of the last budget. Moreover, the Canadian government increased its education transfer payments to the provinces in 2000. The Board of Trade therefore believes that the Quebec government should fully respect its commitment in education-a vital issue for Quebec and for Montreal."
"These commitments consist in part of reinvestments following the draconian budget cuts made necessary to reign in the deficit. These funds will also make it possible for educational institutions to eliminate their debts and deficits and to slowly develop and purchase new equipment."
"But most importantly, the government's commitment has prompted the universities to make their own commitments, from which they will not be able to extricate themselves quite as easily as the government seems intent on doing."
"Lastly, most of the funds earmarked for education are part of an overall commitment totalling over $1 billion made by the Quebec government during the Summit on Youth and Employment. It involves a fundamental inter-generational commitment for the well-being and future of our youth. The government must respect these commitments. Its credibility depends on it," concludes Mr. Legault.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has more than 7 000 members. Its mission is to be the leading group representing the interests of the Greater Montreal business community. The objectives are to maintain, at all times, relevance to its membership, credibility towards the media and influence towards government and decision-makers.