QUEBEC BUDGET: A satisfactory effort to reduce the burden on Quebec taxpayers- higher spending in key sectors
Montreal, March 14, 2000 "The budget presented today by Quebec Finance Minister Bernard Landry constitutes a significant effort to reduce the tax burden on Quebec taxpayers to levels comparable to those borne by citizens of other Canadian provinces," declared Normand Legault, first vice-president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, today.
"We believe that, while maintaining a degree of fiscal flexibility by postponing the de-indexing of the income tax system until 2003, the Quebec government is acting responsibly by returning more than $4.5 billion to taxpayers over three years.
"The Board of Trade is pleased to note that now that the deficit has been eliminated, this government is making reducing the tax burden its priority.
Well targeted spending
"The Quebec budget also contains major reinvestments in the two sectors that are most essential to its mission and that have suffered the most painful cutbacks over the past three years: health and education.
"While the Board of Trade believes these reinvestments to be desirable, it is nevertheless anxious to learn what measures will be taken to streamline the administration of these two major public sectors while these investments are being made.
Some productive investments
"We are also in agreement with the productive investments announced in the budget - particularly with the injection of $155 million to promote access by low-income households to computers and the Internet. In fact, Quebec still lags behind the rest of Canada in this area. Moreover, such vehicles could be used to deliver government services more efficiently.
"The investments planned for municipal infrastructures will allow us to at least begin to fill the gaps left by reduced investments over the past few years. The Board of Trade would nevertheless like more information about how the current government plans to implement its transport plan in metropolitan Montreal.
"The budget left some questions regarding the funding sources for investments totalling several billion dollars. The Minister spoke about investments "in partnership," and we hope that he is referring to the type of public-private partnership we support.
"All in all," concluded Legault, "this budget appears to us to be highly satisfactory."
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 public and influence towards government and decision-makers.