The Pros and Cons of Public Service User Fees

Without fanfare, the Quebec government recently took a sharp turn towards implementing user fees for public services. Beginning with its first budget in June 2003, the government stopped reimbursing parents for fees required by elementary and secondary schools. Then it announced an increase in contributions to the drug insurance plan and lifted the freeze on electricity rate increases. In November it announced an increase in fees at childcare centres and allowed public transit corporations to hike fares. This is just the beginning: the Environment Minister announced he is in favour of further user fees for drinking water; the City of Montreal has decided to go forward and do it. Despite government word to the contrary, the rumour of university tuition increases refuses to go away. Given this shift, it’s time to investigate the pros and cons of this method of financing public services.

Links of interest

Appendix (in French only): Complete sources for Table 1

Media release: L’Institut économique de Montréal analyse les effets du virage vers la tarification des services publics

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