QUEBEC CITY – “With the cost of life, it’s possible the school taxes can have a small increase.”
That was two weeks ago, when Quebec’s Education Minister Yves Bolduc was laying the groundwork for tax increases at 1 or 2 per cent.
On Tuesday, the minister confirmed the hikes will more likely hover around 9 per cent for the next few years, bringing an additional $500 million into provincial coffers.
Bolduc told reporters that he doesn’t have much of a choice.
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“You know you see our finances, it’s going to be more equal for every school board after,” he said.
Twenty-six school boards, including Riverside, Eastern Townships and Western Quebec, are getting the go-ahead to raise taxes.
Last year, the Parti Quebecois angered Quebecers when it allowed boards to hike taxes by as much as 30 per cent in some areas.
Coalition Avenir Quebec leader François Legault argued both the PQ and the Liberals are choking the middle class.
“We’ve said for many months that right now, especially people from the middle class, they don’t have any margin,” said Legault.
This latest hike comes as the Liberals struggle to balance the books while maintaining quality services. They have announced a 4.3 per cent increase in hydro rates and confirmed daycare fees would also rise to $7.30 a day.
“There will be no relief until the zero deficit will reached,” said PQ MNA Jean-François Lisée.
“We thought that relief should have come sooner and like many Quebecers, we are disappointed that the government is breaking its promises.”
Bolduc invited reporters to a photo opportunity on Wednesday afternoon, as he sits down for a meeting with school board leaders to re-establish good relations.
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