4 Ways Quebec's New Budget Could Give You More Money
Yes, it probably means more money for you. But at what cost?
Quebec's CAQ government has released its 2023-2024 budget. It includes headline-grabbing proposals to reduce taxes, increase benefits, and lower service costs.
But critics charge that these and other proposed measures in the budget don't do enough to address systemic problems in housing and the environment. They also say that the new financial aid proposals will actually disadvantage the people who need them most.
Here's how the new Quebec budget could get you more money — and some of its potential shortfalls.
It Increases Quebec's Solidarity Tax Credit
Quebec's Solidarity Tax Credit is a financial boost for the province's lowest earners. In 2022, the maximum income an individual could have to still be eligible for a minimal payment through the credit was $58,179.
The credit consists of two main parts, one to offset the effects of the provincial sales tax and one to offset housing costs.
The 2023-2024 budget proposes an increase to the housing component that would total an extra $78 for a credit-eligible individual who lives alone.
The CAQ government says the measure would cost $292 million over five years. If the budget passes (which is likely), the housing component increase would take effect in July.
It Cuts the Income Tax
Perhaps the flashiest proposed measure is a 1% cut to the tax rate for the first two income tax brackets. The government says that could mean up to $814 in savings for individuals and $1,627 for couples.
But that's the maximum, only for households whose income reaches the peak of the second tax bracket. Residents whose income doesn't exceed the first tax bracket would save less.
For example, someone making the provincial minimum wage (about $25,935 a year for 35 hours a week and 52 weeks) would save about $260.
It Expands the Rent Supplement Program
Quebec's Rent Supplement Program caps beneficiaries' rent at 25% of their income. The program is limited to low-income residents and people in emergency situations, such as people fleeing domestic violence situations.
The program would be able to accommodate 2,000 more housing units, and thus, potentially hundreds more households, by 2028 under the new budget. The measure is expected to cost the province $53.2 million.
It Subsidizes More Child Care Centres
Quebec plans to spend $376 million over five years to subsidize 5,000 childcare centres that currently aren't subsidized. That means cheaper childcare services for potentially hundreds of families.
Critics Say There's Not Enough Funding for Housing
In addition to the increase in the housing component of the Solidarity Tax Credit and the expansion of the Rent Supplement Program, the CAQ government plans to spend $650 million over six years to build 5,250 new social and affordable housing units.
Political parties Québec solidaire (QS) and the Parti Québécois (PQ), as well as the Montreal municipal administration, say that's not nearly enough.
Québec solidaire called the CAQ budget a "death warrant" for social housing in Quebec and accused the government of not taking the housing crisis seriously.
The Parti Québécois wants the government to more than octuple its social housing targets, calling for 45,000 new units in five years.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante had perhaps the strongest words of all.
"In its new budget, the Quebec government has chosen to ignore the housing crisis that is hitting Montreal and other cities across the province hard," she wrote on social media.
"In order to offer a real financial respite to the population, we must help those who are struggling to find housing."
"By ignoring the housing crisis, the government is further undermining the affordability of the metropolis and the wallets of thousands of families."
"It will have to explain its choice."
Opposition Parties Say The Budget Actually Disadvantages Low-Income Earners
Québec solidaire took particular issue with the 1% tax cuts in the first and second brackets, which mean that someone making over $100,000 would save more than someone making minimum wage.
"The CAQ's unfair tax cuts do not create wealth, they impoverish us collectively and permanently," QS finance critic Haroun Bouazzi said in a statement. "It is not normal that the government gives $128 to the cashier and $814 to the CEO of the grocery store chain."
The Liberal Party (PLQ) accused the CAQ of "abandoning future generations to finance its tax cuts" and renewed its call for an end to the sales tax on basic necessities, such as toothbrushes and soap.
The PLQ also wants a 25% boost to the Solidarity Tax Credit. It estimates the CAQ's tweak to the housing component will amount to a 3% bump overall.
Mental Health Is a "Footnote," According to Québec solidaire
Quebec's 2023-2024 budget earmarks a total of $139.3 million over five years (including $27.1 million in 2023-2024) for mental health care. That bundle includes $76.3 million for "measures to improve access" to mental health care, $25 million in crisis centre funding, $13 million for publicity, and another $25 million for initiatives to support new parents.
QS points out that the investment for 2023-2024 represents only about $4 per resident — inadequate, QS social services critic Christine Labrie charges, to address what she calls the ongoing mental health crisis in the province.
PQ health critic Joël Arseneau says the government should be focusing on improving the working conditions of mental health service providers to incentivize them to stay in the public sector so the province can eventually "guarantee universal access to mental health services."
He called the current CAQ plan "clearly insufficient."
Lacklustre Climate Change Measures?
That's what all three opposition parties think about the CAQ's plan to spend about $9 billion over five years on measures to combat climate change and $400 million on the "revitalization of public transit."
Both the PQ and Mayor Plante warn that $400 million won't be enough to solve long-term funding issues, especially as transit services flounder amid post-pandemic changes in ridership.
"The emergency measures for public transit fall far short of what is needed to maintain transportation at acceptable frequency levels," MNA Arseneau added. "We will therefore see a reduction in services, ridership and frequency, while we should eventually double the public transit offer throughout Quebec."
Mayor Plante welcomed the $400 million investment, but urged the government to come up with a more robust five-year transit funding plan.
Overall, QS and the PQ say the CAQ's climate change investments don't meet the magnitude of the crisis.
"Quebec is still investing 29 cents in public transit for every dollar invested in road infrastructure," MNA Bouazzi added.
"The CAQ persists in the path of climate failure."
- Quebec Announced A Big Income Tax Cut — Here's Who'll Save The Most Money ›
- Quebec Driver’s License & Registration Fees Went Up In 2023 — Here’s How Much You’ll Pay ›
- A New 'Grocery Rebate' Of Up To $234 Will Reportedly Go Out To Millions Of Canadians - MTL Blog ›
- Canada Announced A New Public Dental Care Plan — Here's Who Would Qualify - MTL Blog ›