The history of public finance in Quebec since the 1960s can be summed up as follows: rapid spending growth and accumulated deficits until the mid-1990s, followed by a few years of budget cuts and elimination of the deficit, and then a resumption of spending growth right up to now. Contrary to what some people suggest, the Quebec government has not undergone a drastic slimming down in the last few years. Spending growth has continued since 1997.
If we analyze the housing crisis that has plagued Quebec since 2001 through the lenses of economic science, it can be attributed to a number of government policies that have distorted the proper workings of the province’s housing market. Among other factors, rent control has discouraged the maintenance of existing units and the building of new ones. Quebec’s housing regulations also throw numerous roadblocks in the way of tenant selection and the eviction of the worst tenants, which makes investment in housing less attractive.
Bastiat wrote a series of texts that use biting irony to attack the economic sophistry in vogue in his country toward the middle of the 19th century. Unfortunately, this same sophistry continues to feed public policy debate even today!
With governments up against higher health care spending, partnerships between the public and private sectors can offer innovative ways of controlling costs and improving services. Experience shows that such partnerships in construction and hospital management can provide major advantages. However, those who develop public policy must negotiate carefully and devise rules that are well thought out to ensure universal access, quality care and greater efficiency.
Forests are a big part of life in Quebec. In economic terms, this sector generates nearly 90,000 direct jobs paying $3.2 billion in wages. Some commentators are worried about what lies ahead for our forests. What is really happening? Will we soon be facing a shortage of wood? Is greater intervention by public authorities likely to lead to a more sustainable use of Quebec forests?
In the late 1990s, the Quebec government put in place a number of incentives worth more than 2 billion dollars in order to attract related firms in designated zones. This "cités industrielles" policy, whose most prominent examples are Montreal's Cité Multimédia and Cité du commerce électronique, and Quebec City's Centre national des nouvelles technologies, seeks to create "synergies" between firms and to revitalize certain urban areas. This policy is not based on any detailed analysis.
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.
Despite strong local opposition, the government of Quebec has forged ahead with its ambitious project of municipal reorganization. This means that beginning January 1st, 2002, the 28 municipalities on the island of Montreal will be amalgamated into a single city divided into 27 boroughs; elsewhere in the province, dozens of other municipalities have also been forced to merge. However, the debate over the merits of this reorganization is set to continue.
We are proposing a new approach to the financing, insuring and delivery of medical and hospital services. While retaining universal entitlement to Medicare insurance, as a core publicly funded service, we propose a new concept of universal private choice. This includes Medicare, as well as voluntary private medical, hospital and health insurance alternatives, as exist in all other OECD countries. Our aim is to improve quality, access and choice for all Canadians.
There seems to be a view among Canadian governments that the domestic market and interprovincial trade are not important. Canada as a country doesn’t have enforceable trade rules. Provincial governments can and do use their legislative and regulatory powers to protect local interests and limit trade in their markets. We also don’t have an effective mechanism to ensure that our domestic market is functioning the very best it can to support and sustain export growth in the future.