A more caring society
March 11, 2003 - In
the 2003-2004 Budget Speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Finance, the Economy and Research Pauline Marois introduced
a set of measures designed to enhance Quebecers' quality of
want their government to maintain balanced public finances
and support job creation in all regions. They also want it
to do everything possible to build a more caring society,"
stated the Deputy Prime Minister.
has chosen, among other things, to facilitate work-family
balance, create more stimulating, better-equipped schools,
increase resources for the health sector, further promote
solidarity and the fight against poverty, notably by making
housing more accessible, enhance environment quality and support
our cultural vitality in its efforts to gear government action
to a more caring society.
it easier to balance work and family life
Marois indicated that the 2003-2004 Budget marks the start
of a new chapter in the State's provision of support to families.
"We want [that support] to be in Québec's image:
a modern Québec that respects both individual choices
and the need to give ourselves, as a society, innovative tools
to address the realities of today's world."
Budget paves the way to helping workers and their employers,
especially in small and medium-sized businesses, find satisfactory
solutions together for balancing work and family life. Possible
scenarios include a four-day work week, flexible hours, work-time
organization and special leave for parents. We will devote
$20 million a year to implementing specific support for businesses
with fewer than 200 employees, so that they can finance the
cost of setting up such programs," the Minister of Finance,
the Economy and Research said.
Marois also added that Québec would provide the necessary
funding to implement five-dollar daycare for all families
that want it, to ensure that the objective of 200 000 available
daycare spaces is attained by March 2005, i.e. a year ahead
would also like to point out that parents who make other choices
also benefit from government support. In 2002, we granted
$180 million in the form of refundable tax credits to parents
who had their child looked after in a private daycare centre,
at home or in a summer camp," the Deputy Prime Minister
Marois mentioned that during her pre-Budget consultations,
the need for self-employed workers to have access to parental
leave was brought up over and over again. Thus, despite the
federal government's stubborn refusal, for the moment, to
participate in the establishment of a Québec parental
insurance plan that would cover all workers, a tax credit
for parental leave for self-employed workers is being introduced
in the 2003-2004 Budget.
tax credit will be in effect as of the 2003 taxation year
until the parental insurance plan is implemented. It will
offer self-employed workers who give birth to or adopt a child
financial assistance equal to 55% of their net income, for
twelve weeks, to a maximum of $5 070.
work-family balance is not solely the concern of young families.
There comes a time when families must assume, over and above
work responsibilities, obligations toward parents or a spouse
who must be cared for or taken in. Today, the government is
implementing a new type of support for "natural caregivers"
to support them in their family duties. Ms. Marois thus announced
the creation of a new tax credit for people who take care
of a relative who is losing his or her autonomy. This new
refundable tax credit will mean $600 a year for some 80 000
people. "I know that many families in all regions of
Québec will see themselves in this measure, and I hope
that they will find support and comfort in it. Women in particular
come to mind," Ms. Marois declared.
more stimulating, better-equipped schools
more caring society is achieved through more stimulating,
better-equipped schools. Education has always been a priority
of our government. We moved swiftly to develop vocational
and technical training in order to close the gap that had
widened in these areas over time. We invested in our universities,
with regard to both infrastructure and the enhancement of
training. We launched a major reform of elementary and secondary
education," Ms. Marois affirmed.
there is a direct link between the schooling of the population,
job creation and collective wealth, the 2003-2004 Budget Speech
pursues and steps up the government's efforts in the area
of education to reduce the drop-out rate and provide incentives
for success and obtaining a diploma.
Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that it was these efforts
that provided the impetus for the creation of the Ça
bouge après l'école program, scheduled to start
in September 2003. Funding of $81 million over three years
has been earmarked for the implementation of this novel program.
two-hour increase in teaching time at the elementary level
beginning in September 2004 was recently announced. This measure
will represent an overall investment of $184 million and will
allow for greater emphasis on physical education and the arts.
overall additional investments of $131 million will be required
to continue upgrading and increasing the number of computers,
and to enhance book collections in school libraries.
education system must continue to meet job market needs effectively
and be able to adapt to societal changes. To that end, Ms.
Marois announced that the ministère de l'Éducation
will receive an additional $42 million to address new priorities
as of the next school year.
because there is a direct link between schooling and employability,
four sectors in particular will be targeted:
training at the secondary level;
training programs at the college level;
to training in remote regions;
resources for health
universal and accessible health care is a significant concern
for Quebecers, as is the availability of social services throughout
Québec," declared the Deputy Prime Minister.
health budget for 2003-2004 will be $19.1 billion. That is
an increase of $1.7 billion over last year's funding, and
of $6.2 billion compared with six years ago. The share of
the Québec budget allocated to health will thus rise
from 36.3% to 41% between 1997-1998 and 2003-2004. This year's
Budget will enable the government to pursue its efforts to
make the health-care system more efficient, in particular
through performance contracts and cost control, reduce the
waiting lists for cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology and
orthopedics, ease the pressure on emergency wards and improve
Marois also announced that $70 million per year will be made
available to the Minister for Health, Social Services, Youth
Protection and Prevention to support the government's new
emphasis on prevention in health care and social services,
which comes in the wake of the adoption of new public-health
address the shortage of professionals in the health sector,
the 2003-2004 Budget Speech provides for increased enrolment
in the faculties of medicine of Québec universities.
Enrolment will also substantially rise in nursing and pharmacy
programs in order to enable the health-care system to better
meet the needs of Quebecers.
accommodate this increase in the student population, the government
will invest another $225 million in the coming years in the
three-year capital spending program for the university network,
in particular for the construction of new buildings as well
as the retrofitting and renovation of existing buildings.
Deputy Prime Minister also announced the reinforcement of
a "health pole" for eastern Québec in our
national capital, thereby allowing for the expansion and renovation
of the Ferdinand-Vandry pavilion at Université Laval's
faculty of medicine. Major projects will also be undertaken
at the Université de Montréal and McGill University.
projects include the construction of buildings for the life
sciences program at the Université du Québec
à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke.
These new facilities will strengthen Québec's position
in the biotechnology sector.
promoting solidarity and the fight against poverty, notably
by making housing more accessible
more caring society is one in which everyone shares in the
prosperity. It is a question of dignity, a question of solidarity.
Building a more caring society is therefore achieved by fighting
poverty and social exclusion," the Deputy Prime Minister
Marois thus announced that $50 million will be invested in
2003-2004 to support social development and combat poverty.
For example, as of January 1, 2004, the $100 monthly exemption
in respect of support payments will be extended to all households
that receive social assistance and have a dependent child.
Also, the Solidarité jeunesse program has been made
permanent and extended to young people aged 21 to 24. Moreover,
$66 million over three years will be devoted to the Fonds
québécois d'initiatives sociales, and an additional
$10 million per year will be allocated to increase government
support for independent community action.
everyone access to decent housing is also a means of combating
poverty. To make housing more accessible, the 2003-2004 Budget
Speech introduces new measures that will benefit close to
54 000 Québec households, mainly in the municipalities
where the housing shortage is most acute, i.e. Québec
City, Montréal and Gatineau.
government is thus announcing today additional investments
of $270 million in four areas:
than 20 000 low-rental or affordable housing units will
be built over five years;
700 households will be spared the negative impact of the
000 seniors or persons with disabilities will obtain a dwelling
adapted to their needs, which will allow four times more
requests for home adaptations to be met and the waiting
list and waiting times of the Société d'habitation
du Québec to be reduced;
homes of 17 000 households will be renovated.
environment quality is an important aspect of the more caring
living environment to which Quebecers aspire, the 2003-2004
Budget increases environmental spending by targeting two areas
effective control of greenhouse gas emissions; and
implementation of the Québec water policy.
change is one of the most fundamental issues of our century.
Québec therefore intends to pursue its efforts to better
control greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the Kyoto
Protocol," Ms. Marois said.
government thus intends to invest $10 million to support businesses
in their efforts to foster sustainable development, especially
by recovering methane from landfills.
since one of the means of controlling greenhouse gas emissions
is to promote the increased use of public transit, the 2003-2004
Budget contains a provision allowing employees to deduct the
cost of their transit passes in the calculation of their
income from now on. As a result, more employees will begin
using this type of transport.
the Deputy Prime Minister indicated that, thanks to the implementation
of the Québec water policy, the government will support
the planning of the optimal use of water in river basins and
hopes to invest, in collaboration with the federal government
and the municipalities, $3 billion in the coming years.
our cultural vitality
2003-2004 Budget also confirms the Québec government's
commitment on behalf of culture.
is often said to be the soul of a people. I also think that,
in the context of globalization, national cultures have a
key role to play not only within each State, but also in the
dialogue between nations," declared the Minister of Finance,
the Economy and Research.
this Budget, the government is launching an unprecedented
offensive on behalf of the film and audiovisual industries.
I am therefore announcing today that our policy entitled Pour
mieux porter le Québec à l'écran will
be allocated $20 million a year," she added.
provide assistance to all Québec creators, the 2003-2004
Budget Speech increases support to the Conseil des arts et
des lettres du Québec. Thus, over and above the additional
$7 million already granted, a further $5 million is being
allocated, and the tax deduction for copyright income is being
the government confirms its commitment to the major events
and popular festivals held throughout Québec with the
announcement of an annual budget of $12 million, notably for
the Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée in the Gaspésie
region, the FrancoFolies de Montréal, the Festival
du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue
and the Québec winter carnival.
the government is committing considerable new resources to
support culture and its artisans. [
] We are not merely
supporting one of the manifestations of our identity as a
people. We are also supporting a sector that creates jobs
and that positions Québec advantageously in the world,"
Ms. Marois concluded.
- 30 -