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The budget received with disappointment in the region

Photo: Olivier Zuida Le Devoir Even if expectations were minimal on the North Shore, the budget still managed to disappoint.

Sébastien Tanguay in Quebec

1:17 p.m.

  • Quebec

The regions remain hungry the day after the tabling of the sixth Girard budget. The timidity of the measures to combat the housing shortage, to alleviate the deficiencies in public transport and to help the regional economy leaves many with the impression that the government, after having conquered the regions since 208, is abandoning them today.

Even if expectations on the North Shore were minimal, the budget still managed to disappoint.

“We didn’t have very high expectations,” admits Jeff Dufour-Tremblay, general director of the Manicouagan Chamber of Commerce. But there, there is nothing at all, at all, at all, neither in the PQI [Quebec Infrastructure Plan], nor in the budget. In fact, the word “Côte-Nord” appears only once in a budget of more than 400 pages. We checked the last 10 budgets and this is the first time that the region only appears once. »

The region nevertheless has needs to ensure its vitality, particularly in terms of housing. Vacancy rates are stagnating at 0.5% in Baie-Comeau and 1.3% in Sept-Îles, far from the equilibrium rate of 3%.

“This is the first question that companies who want to establish themselves here ask us: will I be able to house my workforce ? At the moment, underlines Mr. Dufour-Tremblay, it It is impossible for us to guarantee to these industries that there will be accommodation, a door or a house for each of their employees. »

Opening up the North Shore will probably have to wait, also deplores the general director of the Manicouagan Chamber of Commerce. “The study on the bridge in Tadoussac will be delivered this fall, but the PQI still only includes money for the study. There is no funding to move on to the second and third stages. »

The region expected more from a government that conquered the North Shore by promising to give it greater importance.

“In the last election, the CAQ was elected for the first time on the North Shore by promising that the region would have weight by being at the decision-making table. They campaigned on this subject, remembers Jeff Dufour-Tremblay, but today, we ask ourselves the question: does the North Shore still have a voice with the government ? »< /p>

Status quo in eastern Quebec

All of Eastern Quebec is not subject to any addition to the PQI. In Bas-Saint-Laurent, it is the status quo: the extension of Highway 20 between Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Rimouski remains under study, while the modernization of the Rimouski hospital and the renovation of route 293 remains in planning.

Idem in Gaspésie and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The budget does not provide any additional money to counter coastal erosion, to protect endangered caribou herds or to ensure the continuity of hospital services, plagued by chronic shortages in the region.

All the projects already registered with the PQI in these two regions remain at the same stage — except the repair of the bridge that spans the Pabos River in Chandler, which is moving into the implementation phase with a sum of nearly 30 million planned over the next few years .

The budget also provides for the granting of $27 million over three years to improve regional air service, the lack of reliability of which is criticized from all sides.

Cellular coverage: far from the promised billions

Prime Minister François Legault had promised, in the fall of 2022, the creation of a fund of three billion dollars to provide all of Quebec with adequate cellular coverage by 2026, to deploy optical fiber to the four corners of the province and to convert the majority of the cellular network to 5G technology by 2030.

This fund remains absent for a second consecutive budget: in the document presented Tuesday, only $25 million is invested in the cellular network of 11 regions, including the North Shore, Gaspésie, Magdalen Islands and Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Moreover, the investment of $50 million over five years to support local services receives a hug from the 11 signatories of the declaration of the Plan for the vitality of the hearts of cities and towns. villages. However, they point out that the sum represents 11% of the 470 million dollars promised during the electoral campaign.

Disappointment of the agricultural world

The agricultural world also deplores a budget which shows “blatant indifference” towards the concerns of producers.

“The absence of strong budgetary measures to help thousands of agricultural businesses in difficulty, mainly due to inflation, debt and soaring interest rates, is an ill-advised choice at a very bad time”, underlines the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA).

The most recent projections from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, dated at the end of February, predict a drop of 49.2% in net agricultural income in 2023 and 86.5% in 2024.

“We have to go back,” said UPA president Martin Caron, “to the first government of Maurice Duplessis and the third of Mackenzie King to find such low net income in Quebec. »

The UPA nevertheless welcomes three measures announced in the Girard budget on Tuesday, namely the creation of a fund of $50 million to facilitate the acquisition of land for the next generation, the extension for five years and the cost of $57.5 million for the support program for the positioning of Quebec alcohol and the enhancement of the Sustainable Growth Investment Program of La Financière agricole du Québec by $10 million per year for five years.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116