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Unforeseen increase of 10 million in the budget of the National Assembly

Photo: Francis Vachon Archives Le Devoir The National Assembly of Quebec, in Quebec, February 20, 2023

The budget of the National Assembly increased by $10 million more than expected during the last financial year, which was marked by a 30% increase in the salaries of deputies.

Documents from the Treasury Board indicate a total amount of budgetary appropriations of 194.9 million for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which will end at the end of the month.

Last April, a total budget of 185.6 million was nevertheless voted by the deputies members of the Bureau of the National Assembly (BAN), the equivalent of the board of directors of the institution .

The National Assembly refused to specify the reasons for this unforeseen increase of nearly 10 million that occurred during the last year. A spokesperson explained that we will have to wait for the upcoming adoption of this new budget by the members of the BAN, on March 28.

“The data presented is for information purposes only,” replied Béatrice Zacharie by email. Indeed, under article 125 of the National Assembly Act, the budget must be approved by the [BAN]. The latter therefore takes precedence over this data. »

The institution did not, however, question the data included in the Treasury Board documents, tabled at the same time as the government budget, on March 12.

“Although the National Assembly is part of the government's accounting perimeter, article 125 of the Law on the National Assembly provides that it is the [BAN] which adopts its budget in order to maintain the autonomy of the legislative power,” replied the spokesperson.

Salary of deputies

In October, BAN deputies voted for an initial increase of nearly 4.4 million in the planned budget, which then went from 185.6 million to 189.9 million dollars.< /p>

This increase was directly linked to the decision to increase the basic compensation of MPs from $101,561 to $131,766, an amount to which are added other bonuses, determined according to the functions performed by parliamentarians.

Since this decision, the BAN has met twice without a supplementary budget being adopted to justify the discrepancy of 5 million which brought the total appropriations to 194.9 million for 2023- 2024.

The President of the National Assembly, Nathalie Roy, who chairs the BAN, declined an interview request from Devoir, made namely its spokesperson, Romane St-Laurent.

The deputies of the Liberal Party of Quebec who are members of the BAN also refused to speak on the subject. “BAN discussions are private,” replied spokesperson Alexandra Régis, directing questions to Ms. Roy’s office.

The parliamentary wing of Québec solidaire, also represented in the BAN, adopted the same reservation. “We will take note of all the figures and ask questions to the BAN,” said spokesperson Stéphanie Guévremont. We will reserve our comments until then. »

Renovations at the Blue Room

After increasing more than expected during the year which is ending, the budget of the National Assembly will amount to 198.7 million in 2024-2025, an increase of 3.8 million compared to the previous financial year.

This sum includes an investment budget of 16 million, including 10 million for fixed assets.

According to Treasury Board documents, part of this sum, which is not specified, is used for renovation work on the Salon bleu.

“The renovation of the National Assembly hall is a flagship project for the institution which will continue for the 2024-2025 financial year,” we can read.

It is stated that it remains impossible to reveal what the expected costs are for this specific project. “It is not possible to reveal the budget allocated for the renovation work on the Salon bleu so as not to harm the upcoming public tender processes,” replied spokesperson Béatrice Zacharie. However, the amount of the contracts will be disclosed as they are awarded. »

In 2015, the President of the National Assembly Jacques Chagnon revealed the costs of 60.5 million for the institution's largest infrastructure project to date, an underground reception pavilion, before the appeals process. 'public offers for its construction.

According to the National Assembly, this figure could be revealed due to the method of awarding contracts.

“The latter was made up of several construction lots, which made it impossible for the bidding contractors to take advantage of the unveiling of the total estimated amount of the project, indicated its spokesperson. In the case of the renovation project, this is a traditional fixed price method. »

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