Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press “We will continue to compensate for the loss of income linked to the fare, but is it up to the government to finance all operating expenses? That’s where the whole question is,” Geneviève Guilbault said on Wednesday.
Valérie Plante considers “unacceptable” the Quebec government's proposal to limit its contribution to 20% aimed at absorbing the projected deficit of $2.5 billion over five years for Quebec's public transport companies.
< p>“It would lead transport companies to have to cut transport, which is the last thing to do if we want to encourage people to board the train and not buy a third car, for example,” said the Mayor of Montreal on Wednesday during a press briefing at city hall.
This would lead transport companies to have to cut transportation, which is the last thing to do< /p> — Valérie Plante
According to her, such a small contribution from the government would force transport companies to reduce their services by 15% for the next five years.
“We agree with the government on the need to optimize,” she assured. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) has also reduced its expenses by $18 million for 2024, she recalled. “But the government must still be a stakeholder in public transportation which, as we know, is absolutely necessary to achieve our targets in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, not just for Montreal, but for all of Quebec. »
The minister defends herself
The Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, defended herself from only wanting to absorb 20% of the anticipated deficit, arguing that It was simply a first offer. “I have openness. It was a first proposal. They all know that I am waiting for their counter-proposal,” said Minister Guilbault in a press scrum at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Radio-Canada reported Wednesday morning that there is disagreement between Minister Guilbault and the transport companies, because of her proposal which they consider insufficient.
Ms. Guilbault recalled that the government was there to help transportation companies during the pandemic as ridership declined. “We will continue to compensate for revenue losses linked to the tariff, but is it up to the government to finance all operating expenses? That’s where the whole question is,” she said.
Share the bill
The parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire (QS ), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, questioned Prime Minister François Legault during the question period on the subject.
“Can the Prime Minister commit to ensuring that there have no cuts in public transport services in all regions of Quebec? » he asked.
“I know that QS thinks that money grows on trees, but I think we have to share the bill with the municipalities,” the Prime Minister replied.
“It’s a national scandal”
The opposition parties sharply criticized the CAQ minister’s offer.
“It’s a national scandal what’s happening here. We are heading towards massive cuts in services in our public transport companies. Who do you think is going to get more of this? Obviously, people who are on the outskirts. […] This is where the service is least profitable, this is where we are going to cut first,” argued solidarity MP Étienne Grandmont.
“It’s very worrying. We see a government talking […] about reducing dependence on cars, reducing the number of vehicles. This is a contradiction with what is happening with transport companies,” said liberal MP Monsef Derraji.
The PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, also believes that the situation is worrying.
“If you have fewer services, you will have fewer users. And there we fall into a downward spiral, which is exactly the opposite of the concept of sustainable mobility, which is the title, however, of the minister, and the opposite of what we should be doing at the moment, both financially and environmentally,” he said.
For her part, Mayor Valérie Plante indicated that historically the Quebec government's share in financing transportation collective had always been at least 30%. “20% is a long way from 30%,” she says. “Discussions with the government are continuing,” she noted. The members of the board of directors of the Regional Metropolitan Transport Authority were also due to meet on Wednesday afternoon. “I am confident that the ARTM will make a counter-proposal which will allow us to move forward on the file. »
With The Canadian Press