Quebec Budget: Health and Education will be the focus

By News Staff & Lia Lévesque, The Canadian Press

The Quebec government’s 2024 budget will be unveiled Tuesday, but Finance Minister Eric Girard has already said that health and education will be the focus.

On Montreal’s South Shore on Monday, at an elementary school in St-Hubert, Girard said the budget will reflect all the work the CAQ has been doing.

“It’s a demanding and responsible budget,” said Girard in French. “It’s a budget that will reflect the work we’re doing in government to promote accessibility and the quality of health care and of course, the educational life of younger people.”

He went on to explain that the government will be investing in food programs, which aim to ensure that kids go to school with breakfast and lunch.

“The government is investing $34 million over five years. There will be $25 million for the Le Club des petits-déjeuners (Breakfast Club) and $9 million for La Cantine pour tous (Canteen for All). That’s $5 million a year. The overall funding for the Club des petits déjeuners, which operates in every region of Quebec, went up from $50 million over five years to $75 million.”

This increase will enable the Club des petits déjeuners to serve 10,000 more children each morning, said its President and CEO, Tommy Kulczyk.

Girard also announced a $10,000 donation to a Montreal food aid organization, Garde-Manger Pour Tous. And Quebec Education Minister Bernard Drainville, who was also on hand, offered similar assistance to a Quebec City organization, Pignon bleu.

The sums will come from the ministers’ discretionary envelope.

“If we want our students to reach their full potential, they must not arrive at school on an empty stomach. You know the expression ‘a belly that cries has no ears’,” said Drainville.

Girard dispensed with the tradition of buying new shoes on the eve of a budget presentation, instead going to get a pair he already owned shined – and also announced a $5,000 donation to a Quebec City organization.

“We have to be aware of the conditions under which this budget was produced,” he said. “The Quebec economy, under the weight of numerous rate hikes and tighter credit conditions, is not growing. The Quebec economy is stagnating.”

More towards education

Drainville said that the budget for education has increased by an average of $1 billion per year over the last five years.

“This money is used for one thing: to help our students reach their full potential,” said Drainville. “Everything must be geared towards that. That’s why we’re working on improving the French language. We want to promote trades, and therefore vocational training.”

Drainville said that he wants the education system to become more efficient.

“We want to build, renovate, and expand our schools. We’re also working on promoting teaching and careers in education.”

FAE wants higher budget for education

The Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) wants the funds allocated towards education to be increased by at least 7 per cent to meet their needs.

FAE President Mélanie Hubert says she expects salary increases and class aid, as well as the measures that have been negotiated in the recent contract to be financed properly.

-With files from La Presse Canadienne

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