Despite the provincial budget surpluses, Quebecers do not want tax cuts in 2020, but rather want the government to reinvest in public services, said co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire (QS) Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters before his party’s elected officials met in preparation for the next parliamentary term, Nadeau-Dubois was asked about the allocation of budget surpluses forecast by the government, estimated at $3.8 billion in December.
Nadeau-Dubois tweeted on Tuesday that after years of austerity measures imposed by Quebec’s previous Liberal government, it’s not time to cut taxes for the wealthy, but to invest in the middle class, teachers, nurses and provide more funding to the health-care sector.
“People don’t want tax cuts of $100 or $150 a year, they want better access to hospitals, access to good public schools that are well funded, with enough teachers,” argued Nadeau-Dubois. “They want dental insurance, a better quality of life.”
The other co-spokesperson of QS, Manon Massé, said the austerity budget cuts under former premier Philippe Couillard produced the current surplus.
“The economy is going well. Everyone must be able to benefit from the collective efforts that we have made in the past,” said Massé alongside Nadeau-Dubois, referring to the budget cuts.
She did not detail which sectors she believes should get the extra funds, but said the party will have proposals by the spring.
QS also did not want to weigh in on union wage negotiations with public sector employees, but said teachers and nurses have paid the price of previous austerity measures.
She continued by saying she also hears the public’s demand for better services.
In December, Quebec’s department of finance estimated a surplus of $3.8 billion as of Sept. 30, 2019. About $1.25 billion will be put into the Generations Fund, a provincial trust fund created by the government in 2006.
Premier François Legault has said that there wouldn’t be much of the surplus money left over because of the promises the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) made during its electoral campaign.
The province is currently offering public sector workers a seven per cent salary increase over five years as well as additional incentives for certain groups deemed a priority, like teachers.
Unions, however, are demanding a higher increase than the government’s seven per cent proposal.
–With files from The Canadian Press