Girard defends his tax cut and accuses the media of being critical
Finance Minister Eric Girard.
“The people in the cafes or in the markets that I meet, they congratulate me [on the tax cut], it is only in the newspapers that we criticize it,” said the Quebec Minister of Finance , Eric Girard. He was speaking to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) on Friday.
“In the last elections, there were three parties which had between 60 and 70% of the votes and which proposed tax cuts”, justified the minister of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ). For him, voters demonstrate their support for this measure.
In his budget, Minister Girard lowers the tax rate on the first two income brackets, a measure that pays more to the wealthiest than to the most precarious. This drop in revenue will cost Quebec $9 billion over five years, and will slow down the absorption of the public debt.
A criticism from several circles
If the president of the CCMM congratulated the Minister of Finance for having kept the electoral promise of tax cuts, the City of Montreal and various organizations were more critical.
On Wednesday, the mayor of Montreal said that with the amount spent on this tax cut, $9 billion, Quebec could have built 50,000 social housing units in five years. The provincial government is only planning for 1,500 new affordable housing units, 500 of which with private sector assistance, in addition to funding 3,300 social housing units already planned.
Same observation on the side of the Popular Action Front in redevelopment urban (FRAPRU) which accuses Quebec of having disengaged from housing and also argues that the amount dedicated to this reduction is equivalent to the construction of 50,000 social housing units over five years.
A FRAPRU demonstration was also held outside the conference. The organization wanted to show its dissatisfaction to the minister and demanded the construction, as soon as possible, of new social housing, without intervention from the private sector. The abandonment of AccèsLogis, the only organization that financed social and community housing, is decried by FRAPRU as well as by the entire city council of Montreal.
“The thousands of tenant households in Quebec who are poorly housed, who live in housing that monopolizes 50%, even 80% of their income, and who continually suffer the consequences of speculation do not have the luxury of waiting,” said FRAPRU, by press release. The organization asks that Quebec relaunch the Accès Logis program.
“The Legault government is depriving state coffers of the amounts needed to support vulnerable people in the face of the rising cost of living, the recovery of public services and the financing of the fight against climate change” denounces for its part, the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information.
Girard defends its budget
The tax cut is not really a deprivation for other areas of spending, according to Minister Girard, because the Legault government is digging into the Generations Fund to finance it. He thus explained that the only impact on public finances of this new expenditure would be the extension of ten to fifteen years, the time necessary to reduce the public debt to 28% of Quebec's GDP, against 38% today.
Before the CCMM, Mr. Girard insisted at length that this measure affected 90% of households earning less than $100,000 per year. “This will encourage work effort, because the more you work and earn, the more you save,” he said, noting that Quebec is the highest-taxed state in North America.
< p>According to Éric Girard, another tax cut will not occur before 2027-2028 and the return to a balanced budget. A registration tax, a kilometer tax, a tax on cylinders, tolls or a payroll tax for companies have not been ruled out by the Minister of Finance, in order to subsidize public transport, ensuring that ;it will be a collective reflection and that there is no urgency.