No flagship measure against housing crisis and labor shortage | Quebec Budget 2023
Quebec is experiencing a significant labor shortage.
Reading the budget tabled Tuesday by the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, many wonder if Quebec is taking the true measure of the seriousness of the labor shortage and the housing crisis affecting thousands of businesses. and households in the province.
Given the widespread shortage of workers in Quebec, the Legault government has announced a series of small measures to help businesses that have had to leave more than 18 billion dollars on the table last year, for lack of personnel to run their businesses and factories.
Among representatives of SMEs and manufacturers, the word insufficient was on everyone's lips.
In the budget he tabled on Tuesday, Minister Girard is allocating $615 million over six years (just over $100 million per year) to help businesses attract, train and retain workers.
The Minister of Finance of Quebec, Eric Girard
Insofar as Quebecers do not have enough children to ensure the succession, the integration of immigrant workers is the nerve of the war on which the government has chosen to focus, devoting 509 of the announced $615 million to it.
This money must notably strengthen the francization of immigrants and the implementation of the Francisation Québec program (213.5 million), a one-stop access point for French learning services.
More than $164 million will also be used to accelerate the recognition of the professional skills of immigrants who settle in Quebec.
Seventy-three million dollars will go to incentives for newcomers to settle in regions of Quebec, where there is a shortage of more than 18,000 immigrant workers, according to data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
In this regard, $25.5 million will also be allocated to the regional integration of asylum seekers. A sum of $105.6 million will also be invested to help companies find workers.
A hundred million dollars will also be used to ensure the continuation of the short term to promote internships in companies in the priority and most sought-after professions.
Quebec is also counting on the modification it is making in this budget to the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) to encourage Quebecers to work longer or encourage retirees to return to the labor market by, in particular, making contributions to the QPP optional be 65 years old.
Remember that all of these measures are in addition to the $3.9 billion over five years promised by Minister Girard in his fall 2021 economic update to address the labor shortage.
Significant sums, certainly, but insufficient, according to companies and merchants who have to deal with hiring difficulties that compromise the development and operation of companies in all sectors, as much private than public.
According to François Vincent, vice-president for Quebec of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), whose members suffered losses of more than $11 billion in 2021 due to labor shortages. work, the majority of the measures announced today, including the tax cut, will be useful.
However, he laments, SMEs will not be able to overcome this crisis if Quebec does not reduce their taxation, one of the highest in the country, which is otherwise “unfair” for many small businesses.
The number of vacancies in Quebec SMEs has increased from 95,000 in 2017 to 165,100 in 2022, according to CFIB data.
Girard's budget analysis is significantly the same with manufacturers and exporters for whom the measures announced today are clearly insufficient.
The government has announced several small measures which are interesting, but which will not necessarily get people to our factories across Quebec faster, says Véronique Proulx, CEO of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters.
“There is no flagship measure that will really have a game-changing impact.
— Véronique Proulx, CEO of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters
Manufacturing and exporters left more than $7 billion on the table last year due to lack of labour, points out Ms. Proulx.
We were asking that the 15 manufacturing trades that are most in demand in Quebec, such as electrical mechanics and welders, be among the priorities, that they benefit from specific measures to encourage people to train in this sector. -where we focus on this sector in international recruitment, she explains.
CEO Véronique Proulx is also surprised at the absence in the budget of measures flagships to help companies robotize their operations to compensate for the lack of staff.
“Manufacturing is the biggest contributor to Quebec’s GDP. That's 86% of our exports. […] It is a major creator of wealth for Quebec, but we do not feel adequately supported.
— Véronique Proulx, CEO of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters
Soaring rent prices and the scarcity of affordable housing have become unavoidable problems for a large number of households in Quebec .
The massive influx of newcomers to Quebec is certainly a solution to alleviate the labor shortage, but it does nothing to help the other crisis that we are currently experiencing. Quebecers, that of affordable housing.
Bringing in tens of thousands of people from abroad every year by inviting them to settle and work in Québec implies being able to house them decently. This has become a real challenge in Quebec, whether you are an immigrant or not.
At a time when you have to spend at least $1,500 a month for a five-room apartment in the big cities and when soaring interest rates and very high prices are holding back home ownership, Quebec is devoting a billion over six years for social housing. Of this amount, 650 million will be allocated to the construction of 1,500 new affordable housing units, including 500 units in collaboration with the private sector.
The rest of the money will be used to finance 450 housing units through the Initiative for the rapid creation of housing and to accelerate the construction of 3,300 Accès Logis housing units already announced, because, as Minister Girard recalled in press conference: The easiest thing with housing is to advertise it.
PQ MP Joël Arsenault is of the opinion that the Legault government does not seem to be taking the measure of the seriousness of the situation prevailing throughout Quebec.
According to the PQ member for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the troops of François Legault, who have promised to create 11 000 units within five years, are still a long way off and do not seem in a hurry to tackle this crisis which is affecting a growing number of citizens, especially the poorest.
“The government neglects social issues in its economic planning. »
— Joël Arseneau, Parti Québécois MNA for Îles-de-la-Madeleine
Insofar as the government does not achieve its objectives, which are already below current needs, the government's policies on social housing can only aggravate the crisis, concludes Mr. Arseneau.