The Quebec election is on Oct. 3, and for the first time, five parties have a chance of winning at least one seat in the 125-seat legislature. Here is where the parties stand on some major themes.
Economy and cost of living
The Coalition Avenir Québec is promising to cut income taxes by a total of 2.5 per cent over 10 years, with a first cut affecting to the two lowest tax brackets in 2023. The party is also promising to cut cheques this year for up to $600 for about 6.4 million Quebecers. Party leader François Legault says if re-elected, the CAQ would also spend $1.8 billion on social and affordable housing in the next mandate.
The Quebec Liberal party is promising to cut income taxes for the two lowest tax brackets and raise them for the “super rich.” It is also committing to abolishing the Quebec sales tax on the first $4,000 of annual electricity bills and on certain basic necessities such as toothpaste, shampoo and certain medications.
Québec solidaire is promising an annual wealth tax starting at 0.1 per cent for assets worth $1 million, up to 1.5 per cent for assets worth $100 million or more. The party is also proposing an inheritance tax of 35 per cent on assets over $1 million or more. Québec solidaire is also promising to temporarily suspend the sales tax on items such as food, medication and clothing, and it says it will increase the minimum wage to $18 an hour.
The Conservative Party of Quebec is promising to cut income taxes — retroactively to the 2022 fiscal year — to 13 per cent from 15 per cent for the first $46,295 and then cut it to 18 per cent from 20 per cent for income between $46,295 and $92,580. The party is committing to suspend the provincial tax on gasoline. The Conservatives are also promising to cut the sales tax on used consumer goods.
The Parti Québécois is promising to distribute one-time “purchasing power allocations” of $1,200 for people with income less than $50,000 and of $750 for people who make between $50,000 and $80,000.
The CAQ is promising not to hold an independence referendum; it says its project for Quebec is within Canada — despite the fact the party has nominated several high-profile sovereigntists as candidates. The CAQ says it will invest up to $40 million toward 20 research chairs in Quebec studies, and the party is also committing to invest another $40 million to restore and maintain religious buildings across the province.
The Liberals are promising to gut the main sections of Quebec’s secularism law — known as Bill 21 — to allow teachers to wear religious symbols at work and to remove the use of the notwithstanding clause that shields the law from court challenges. The party says it will also reform the CAQ’s language law — Bill 96 — in order to allow all francophones and allophones the right to attend English junior colleges and remove the requirement that immigrants communicate with the government in French within six months of arriving.
Québec solidaire promises that if elected it would immediately launch an assembly to establish the constitution of an independent Quebec nation. The outcome of those consultations would be put to a referendum. The party is also committing to abolishing the position of lieutenant-governor, who is the representative of the King in the province.
The Conservatives are promising to cancel Bill 96, which they say is divisive and targets the anglophone community. The party won’t touch the secularism law, Bill 21, however.
The PQ is committed to holding a referendum on Quebec independence within its first mandate; it is also promising to name a minister responsible for Quebec sovereignty. The party wants to table a new, tougher language law, which will include measures to prevent all non-anglophones from attending English-language junior colleges.
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The CAQ is promising to cut greenhouse gases by 37 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030 and for the province to have net-zero emissions by 2050. Legault says the only way to reach those goals is to have more hydroelectric dams, and he says he will order the province’s hydro utility to analyze which rivers can be dammed.
The Liberals are promising to cut greenhouse gases by 45 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030. The party says it wants $100 billion of public and private investment by 2050 so that the province becomes carbon neutral by that time. The Liberals are promising to create a new state-owned corporation to co-ordinate the development of the province’s green hydrogen industry. The party says it will make public transit free for students and people aged 65 and over.
Québec solidaire is promising to cut greenhouse gases by 55 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The party says it will impose a 15 per cent surtax on the purchase of new cars it considers highly polluting. Québec solidaire says it will create an electric train rail system across the province, build a “vast network” of electric car charging stations and ban gas-powered car sales by 2030.
The Conservatives have no target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the party wants Quebec to develop its fossil fuel resources, such as shale gas, for export to Europe. The Conservatives are promising to create a carbon exchange program, to relaunch a liquid natural gas project in the Saguenay region and to gradually remove subsidies for electric vehicles.
The PQ is promising to cut greenhouse gases by 45 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030. The party wants to impose a 25 per cent tax on the “excess profits” of oil and gas companies and it wants to launch a provincial competition bureau to investigate “cartels” in the gasoline industry.
The CAQ is promising to maintain immigration levels at roughly 50,000 newcomers a year, stating that the province has reached its capacity to integrate immigrants and teach them French. The CAQ is promising that if re-elected, it would provide incentives for more immigrants to move to Quebec City and other regions outside Montreal.
The Liberals are proposing an initial immigration target of 70,000 people a year if elected and to work with individual regions to determine their real immigration needs. The party says it wants to gain full control over the temporary foreign worker program from the federal government and to increase budgets for French-language training.
Québec solidaire is promising to increase annual immigration to between 60,000 and 80,000 people a year. The party is also proposing to welcome more refugees and people fleeing climate change-related problems in their home countries.
The Conservatives say the province should accept immigrants based on their “civilizational compatibility” — whether they accept values such as equality between men and women and acceptance toward the LGBTQ community — and based on whether they can speak French. The party would lower the number of immigrants accepted every year until the economy is sufficiently strong.
The PQ wants to cut immigration to 35,000 people a year, arguing that immigrants don’t solve labour shortages. The party wants to ensure all economic immigrants to the province have a knowledge of French. The PQ is promising to increase funding for integrating immigrants, and it wants half of all immigrants to settle in the regions outside big cities.
The CAQ is promising to open by 2025 two private medical centres — one in Montreal and the other in Quebec City — that would offer health services entirely subsidized by the public insurance system. The party is no longer promising that each Quebecer will have access to a family doctor — a failed promise from the 2018 election. Instead, it would launch a digital health platform that would direct people to the right health-care professional, such as doctors, nurses or pharmacists.
The Liberals say they are committed to offering a family doctor to all Quebecers, and they are promising that people with chronic illnesses, seniors and people with mental health issues will be at the front of the line. The party is promising to spend an extra $6 billion on health care. It is also committing to improving working conditions for nurses by increasing staff-patient ratios.
Québec solidaire is promising to launch a universal dental care program that would fully cover costs for people under 18 and, for adults, would cover 80 per cent of teeth cleaning costs and 60 per cent of costs for procedures such as root canals and fillings. The party is also committing to create a state-owned pharma corporation that would produce vaccines and medications. The party also wants to launch 24-7 community clinics across the province, which would be the public’s entry point into the health-care network.
The Conservatives would encourage Quebecers to seek care in the private health system if they cannot be treated in the public sector within a reasonable time; all care would be paid for by the government. The party also wants to remove the law prohibiting doctors from having to choose between the public and private health-care systems and allow them to work in both.
The PQ is promising to invest massively in home care for seniors and triple the number of hours of care offered within four years. The party opposes adding more private elements into the health system and is instead committing to attracting and retaining more health-care workers by improving working conditions in the public system.