Reality has changed

There is a world of difference between the economic update presented yesterday by the Quebec Minister of Finance and the budget he tabled in March. Quebec had been in its best financial health for over half a century. Today we have the worst deficit in our history.

Yesterday’s fiscal year is nevertheless a painful reminder of the weakness of the budget tabled last March. While the pandemic was upon us, just days before the first closures, the budget did not even mention the existence of the risks of COVID-19. Short view.

In any event, Quebec’s deficit is now $ 15 billion. Another $ 15 billion is forecast in the hole for the next two years. What to review his plans.

Uncertainty

The next few months still have a lot of uncertainty.

Despite the encouraging news about vaccines, we are still caught up in a second wave of the pandemic which we do not see the end of. And experts are already talking about a third wave!

The financial portrait presented yesterday calls into question all negotiations with government employees.

The Legault government had tabled an offer providing for wage increases of 9% over five years for all. For some groups, such as teachers and nurses, the government agreed to add more as part of targeted negotiations.

Public sector unions refused to sign an agreement on this basis in the spring. Fault. I understand that they had set up an optimistic scenario in which the public sector was going to land solid increases. Hooray, the surplus! the door was open for big ambitions for salary increases.

Unfortunately, the world has changed. Not only should the government not increase its offer, but the government’s offer should even be withdrawn. Will you tell me that increases of 2% per year are not much? On the Quebec government’s payroll, 2% more for employees is almost a billion additional annually.

On behalf of all of us

Many workers are currently in limbo. And should I tell you about restaurateurs, merchants, self-employed workers?

In the face of so many unknowns and a record deficit, the government should avoid committing on behalf of all of us to contribute billions more over the next five years.

The government should work to resolve emergencies like nurses, especially their work organization problems.

The same goes for specific cases already identified such as beneficiary attendants or early-career teachers.

But he would have to take a step back from signing long-term increases for his half-million employees.

Public sector workers are not overpaid. They are not tough guys.

These stereotypes are wrong. But the claim conveyed in the advertisements that they are being left behind by society is also false.

People who abruptly lost their jobs during the pandemic will be able to testify to the value of job security.

www.journaldequebec.com

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