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5 things you need to know about Quebec’s 2016-17 budget

Money for education in Quebec budget
WATCH ABOVE: After years of virtually zero growth, the education sector is the biggest bread winner in Quebec's 2016-17 provincial budget. Global's Tim Sargeant reports.

QUEBEC CITY – Finance Minister Carlos Leitao tabled Quebec’s 2016-17 budget on Thursday.

It’s a $100 billion budget – a 2.5 per cent increase from last year – and like many budgets, there are winners and losers.

Here are the five things you need to know about how your tax dollar is being spent and what it means:

Big bucks for education

After years of virtually zero growth, the education sector is the biggest bread winner.

More than $17 billion, a three per cent increase, will be spent on education at all levels.

Much of the money is going toward bricks and mortar – improving elementary and high school infrastructure.

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Millions of dollars are also expected to be spent to hire more specialized staff to deal with special-needs students, something schools have been requesting for years.

Overall, $1.2 billion of new money is being spent on education during the next three years.

More money in your pocket

While personal income taxes aren’t being cut, the dreaded health tax is being phased out and will be eliminated by 2018.

Individuals earning $41,265 or less will pay $50 this year instead of $100.

People making between $41,265 to $134,095 will pay $75 instead of $200.

Income earners above $134,095 won’t see any reduction, but their contribution will be cut to $800 from $1,000 beginning in 2017.

Reductions in healthcare

The amount parents pay for daycare will be reduced by 50 per cent for a family’s second child.

The reduction is retroactive to 2015.

For instance, a couple earning $100,000 will see their daily rate reduced to $9.36 from $11.41, saving $374.

However, the daily rate for a first child will increase between $0.25 a day to $0.70 a day, depending on the parent’s combined income.

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Tackling debt

The government has produced its second consecutive deficit zero budget, meaning it has balanced its books.

However, the provincial debt is still very high, representing 55 per cent of the GDP.

The finance minister’s target is to reduce the debt level to 45 per cent of the GDP by 2026.

The government plans to spend $10.4 billion on debt service in the 2016-17 fiscal year, 3.6 per cent over last year’s budget.

Vanity plates on the way

Many Quebecers have often looked in envy of other Canadian provinces and U.S. states that boast personalized licence plates on their vehicles.

The vanity option will be introduced to Quebecers starting in 2017.

The SAAQ will allow personalized plates with any alphanumeric combination – as long as it’s not offensive.

The rates haven’t been determined yet, but it’s expected to generate an additional $3 million in revenue.

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