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 Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools provides an annual, independent measurement of the extent to which each school meets basic needs. The Report Card thus serves several purposes. For one thing, it facilitates school improvement, and for parents who have a choice between several educational institutions, it can help them make an enlightened decision.
Although he died at the young age of 49, French journalist and politician Frédéric Bastiat wrote dozens of pieces and thoroughly demolished the economic fallacies that were in vogue in his country over 150 years ago. Some of these, like his Petition from the candle makers, are worth more than the hundreds of treatises that have been written on trade policies as an efficient and clear demonstration of the absurdity of protectionism.
Despite broad fears that turning more to the private sector would lead to a two-tier system, notions of profit and competition are not incompatible with the idea of health care for everyone. Sweden’s recent experience shows us that it is possible to increase the efficiency of the system by means of market mechanisms while maintaining universal care.
With the arrival in Quebec City of a new government that has declared its intention to review the so-called "Quebec model," the time for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) may finally have come. The new president of the Treasury Board has announced a vast operation of reengineering of the state bureaucracy, among other things through a wider recourse to Public-Private Partnerships. Quebec has not so far used PPPs to the same extent as other OECD countries, or even other Canadian provinces.
In his inaugural address opening Quebec’s 37th legislature, newly elected Premier Jean Charest stated that taxes must be lowered not just for the pleasure of it but “because it is necessary, because our tax load is an obstacle to our development.” What exactly is the current situation? What is the weight of this tax and regulatory burden that people in Quebec are forced to bear?
A number of university researchers and pressure groups have suggested that the housing crisis affecting Quebec’s main metropolitan areas is caused by greater poverty among the population, reduced budgets for construction of social housing, or the inability of private business to adapt to new lifestyles in Quebec. The most recent data show us, however, that these explanations fail to stand up.
Based on supporting data, the Swedish author Johan Norberg shows that the opening up of trade and international capital flows is an indicator of progress, especially for the world’s less fortunate. In a systematic way, he refutes the arguments of those who oppose free trade and capitalism. Featured in several prestigious newspapers and magazines such as the Financial Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and The Times, the work of Johan Norberg was awarded the Anthony Fisher International Memorial Award in 2002, a prize that rewards the remarkable works published by independent institutes of research in public policy. Now MEI, in collaboration with les Editions Saint-Martin, has made this significant contribution to the debate on globalization available to French-speaking readers.
A debate has raged for several years in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada on ways to remedy the shortcomings of the public health care system. However, this debate has been confused by uncertainty with respect to the Quebec and Canadian legal context. The legislative framework under which the public health care system has operated for the last twenty years is indeed not only complex, but prone to various interpretations. Just what is allowed under the current laws? Which laws could a reform-minded provincial government modify in order to successfully carry out its reforms? How much room do the provinces that would like to reform the system have under current federal legislation?
We often hear statements to the effect that growth in market economies has caused irreparable harm to the planet. A closer look at official statistics, however, shows us not only that living standards and environmental standards are far higher in advanced countries than in underdeveloped economies, but also that considerable progress has been observed in the latter in the last several decades.