Québec budget makes workers and poor pay, kowtows to rich

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Unionist
Québec budget makes workers and poor pay, kowtows to rich

Below...

Unionist

Unspeakable, cynical attack by this neoliberal regime:

Quote:

- An increase of the Quebec Sales Tax by one percentage point in 2012, in addition to the one-percentage-point hike already planned for Jan. 1, 2011. In total, the QST will be 9.5 per cent as of Jan. 1, 2012.

- A gradual increase, as of 2014, of the electricity rates charged by Hydro-Québec. [NOTE: These are the lowest in Canada, and the wealthy have been demanding they rise.]

- An increase of the fuel tax by one cent per litre as of tomorrow, and one cent per litre a year for the next three years. The gas tax currently stands at 15.2 cents a litre.

- A fuel-tax increase of up to 1.5 cent per litre for the cities of Montreal and Quebec to fund public transit.

- Increases in university tuition fees as of 2012 [NOTE: these have been frozen for 14 years as a result of constant mass student struggles]

- Creation of a health contribution fund, to cost $25 a person as of July 1, $100 in 2011 and $200 in 2012.[NOTE: Québec eliminated medicare premiums in about 1977.]

[...]

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Budget+Highlights/2745870/story.... other highlights here.[/url]

Of course, Charest claims this is all fair, because big business was demanding more - like getting rid of $7 per day child care and making parents pay the full shot.

This is not much of a gamble for Charest, given that the National Assembly is controlled by two neoliberal parties, regardless of any rhetorical differences.

 

DaveW

 

at a newspaper I worked at, we used to have an electronic text "bin" for standard headlines,

as in "Pope urges world peace" or "US Congress deadlocked as key vote nears";

for provincial budgets, it was something like "Gas, beer hit with hikes; sales tax boosted to fight deficit"

 plus ca change...

As for tuition fees,  I am a paying parent, and just this a.m. transferred money (ouch ) to my son's RBC account for McGill expenses;

as such, I say: universities need more money, and as a major revenue stream, tuition has to go up. Otherwise, over the longer term, you just have lousier universities and bigger classes. In Europe, with "free" tuition the results are often painful, esp. for first-year students and researchers.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Post-secondary education is affirmed by the United Declaration of Human Rights. It is a public good in and of itself. As such, we should be fighting to move towards a public funding model, not away from it--indeed, the students of Quebec know this and that is why they enjoy the lowest tuition in the country and the best funding system. "Tuition has to go up" is the mendacious refrain of corporatized University presidents, not of students or of citizens in a democracy.

Believe it: the students of Quebec will not take this budget sitting down.

Papal Bull

DaveW wrote:

as such, I say: universities need more money, and as a major revenue stream, tuition has to go up. Otherwise, over the longer term, you just have lousier universities and bigger classes. In Europe, with "free" tuition the results are often painful, esp. for first-year students and researchers.

 

Awwwwww, I'd certainly hate that your son has a bad time with a crappy first year class :(

 

Nah, its okay, I'll pay more for him. I feel so bad that he might have shitty classes, because I've never had one. :(

DaveW

so things should be lousy for everyone?!? not much of an argument ...

Caissa

The argument is that pse should be publicly funded just like primary and secondary education is.

Unionist

DaveW wrote:

so things should be lousy for everyone?!? not much of an argument ...

Why of course not. Things should be luxurious for a few.

 

Caissa

How could you do that with a progressive tax system, Unionist? Have you been reading the Wealth of nations again? Wink

Unionist

I'd love to lay my invisible hand on a copy of that book. Unfortunately, the Wealth of Nations holds no interest for me. I'm a person of principal.

 

Caissa

Your a capital individual, Unionist. Wink

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I was just reading in Le Nord Est that Quebec has a surplus of electricity, so why would rates increase???

 

Thread drift: with a surplus in electricity, why are there still proposals for more hydro dams?

Unionist

Boom Boom, Québec has the cheapest residential rates in North America by far, although Manitoba and B.C. are quite close. You can read about the detailed comparisons [url=http://www.hydroquebec.com/publications/en/comparison_prices/pdf/comp_20... - for example, Torontonians pay 67% higher rates than Montrealers!

Neoliberals can't stand ordinary folks getting anything cheap. It's sort of like a religion with them. So, they've been pushing for hydro rates to rise dramatically (which this budget thankfully will not do) so they can soak everyone in order to increase government revenues and hand it over to their buddies; so as to finance more development so they can export more to the U.S. and other provinces; and ultimately to make Hydro a nice target for privatization (recall that it was the Quiet Revolution which nationalized Hydro in 1963).

Oh, I should mention that one reason the Charest neolibs don't raise them faster is rather selfish and greedy - they're afraid it would correspondingly reduce federal equalization payments!

O Canada!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Thanks, Unionist. Electricity isn't exactly cheap for us - I pay almost $200/month, but then I live in a very cold and isolated area of Quebec (and the power occasionally goes off - was off for 12.5 hours yesterday).

Unionist

Boom Boom wrote:

Thanks, Unionist. Electricity isn't exactly cheap for us - I pay almost $200/month, but then I live in a very cold and isolated area of Quebec (and the power occasionally goes off - was off for 12.5 hours yesterday).

Do you use hydro for heating? That's put the $200 in better perspective.

What's your rate per Kw/hour, out of curiosity? You'll find it on your Hydro bill. Mine says $0.0545 for the first 30 kWh per day, and $0.0746 above that. Oh, and there's also something called "fixed charge" at $0.4064 per day.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes I use electric heat, but also have a wood furnace. I usually spend $500 - $600/year for wood, but now have enough to last probably three years stockpiled. So for the next three years all I have to pay is the aproximate $200/month for hydro and less during summer.

By the way, my hydro rates are exactly the same as yours! I just looked at my bill. Amazing, since I live in such an isolated area.

There are a lot of folks here who heat exclusively with wood - no electric heat at all, and their bills are almost half what mine are. All of us have electric hot water heaters.

Ghislaine

DaveW wrote:

 

As for tuition fees,  I am a paying parent, and just this a.m. transferred money (ouch ) to my son's RBC account for McGill expenses;

as such, I say: universities need more money, and as a major revenue stream, tuition has to go up. Otherwise, over the longer term, you just have lousier universities and bigger classes. In Europe, with "free" tuition the results are often painful, esp. for first-year students and researchers.

 

Well, for those of us whose parents could not afford to pay our tuition and now have massive student loans at criminal interest rates, tuition needs to go down...not up.  I am sorry, but adding that "ouch" in there is just offensive coming from someone who can afford to provide the current tuition and support increases for his children. 

As for electric rates, we have the highest rates in Canada here on PEI and our premier is trying to work out some type of deal with Hydro Quebec at the moment (pls help us out, Quebec!). It is currently 13.54 cents per Kwh. Looks like your sales tax will be nearly as high as ours soon though. 

Unionist

Ghislaine, if you're prepared to change the name to Île-du-Prince-Jean, I think M. Charest might look at purchasing PEI (under the table - no sales tax) and bestowing all our neolib benefits upon your compatriots!

On a serious note, I agree fully with your post, having been there and done that.

 

DaveW

Ghislaine wrote:

DaveW wrote:

 As for tuition fees,  I am a paying parent, and just this a.m. transferred money (ouch ) to my son's RBC account for McGill expenses;

as such, I say: universities need more money, and as a major revenue stream, tuition has to go up. Otherwise, over the longer term, you just have lousier universities and bigger classes. In Europe, with "free" tuition the results are often painful, esp. for first-year students and researchers.

Well, for those of us whose parents could not afford to pay our tuition and now have massive student loans at criminal interest rates, tuition needs to go down...not up.  I am sorry, but adding that "ouch" in there is just offensive coming from someone who can afford to provide the current tuition and support increases for his children. 

Sorry, the moral-superiority act does not play well: for upper-middle class parents, they pay the full college-fee bill, d'accord.

But when parents/students demonstrably cannot afford that, yes, subsidize them to the max. It comes out kif-kif.

 Why should medical students and a fortirori MBA students be subsidized by the general revenues levies from all taxpayers??

Unionist

Agreed, DaveW - we'll omit the MBA wannabe wealthmongers. They add no value to society.

But I was hoping to generate some discussion here about the budget as a whole - we've had many threads about the tuition debate and I wouldn't mind seeing another one. The students will hopefully be rising up as they have in the past and will need our support.

 

Caissa

Dave W. asked: Why should medical students and a fortirori MBA students be subsidized by the general revenues levies from all taxpayers??

Caissa answers: because educate is a right and fees should not be charged regardless of academic level, elementary, secondary or post-secondary.

Unionist

I've always found it interesting that we subsidize everyone who drives but not everyone who learns.

But I digress. Any thoughts about the budget overall? Health care premiums? User fees? Hydro? Fuel? Etc.

 

ygtbk

It's the kind of budget that Ontario would have tabled if it were as heavily indebted as Quebec. We're not there yet but we're working on it.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
I've always found it interesting that we subsidize everyone who drives but not everyone who learns.

 

Colleges and universities are actually quite heavily subsidized. Currently about half of a student's tuition is covered by the government and the other half by tuition. The government actually spends MORE, per student now than they would have 20 or 30 years ago (in adjusted dollars).

A_J

Unionist wrote:
I've always found it interesting that we subsidize everyone who drives but not everyone who learns.

Well, considering how low tuition is in Quebec already (less than $2,000 a year), everyone who learns is subsidised. And quite a lot. Just not 100%.

Re increased rates for electricity and taxes on fuel, I'm not quite sure how that "kowtows to the rich" . . . nor how cheap electricity and cheap gasoline is progressive in the face of the threats posed by climate change.

Caissa

I never cease to be amazed that individuals on a progressive website support user fees for pse. Sigh!!

Oh and the budget sucks, Unionist. User fees for health are regressive and classist.

Snert Snert's picture

As a kid, it amazed me that OHIP would cover just about any medical procedure to any part of my body except my teeth.  They could rot out of my head as far as OHIP was concerned.  I guess you can't pay for everything.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I haven't even seen the budget yet, and didn't know it had been presented until I saw this thread.

Summer

 

On the one hand, I'm glad to see a budget that seems to realize that in order to deal with debt, we cannot simply cut programs and attempt to reduce spending: some tax increases are needed.  So kudos to Quebec for being more honest than the Feds or the Ontario gov't. 

On the other hand, most of the tax increases will disproportionately affect the low income and this is not the way to go.  Quebec would do better to increase the marginal tax rate on income above a certain point.  I note that the province's top tax bracket applies to everything above around $77,000.  Why not start another tax bracket at, 90-something and another at 120-something (or some other amount, these are completely arbitrary)? 

With respect to user fees for medical premiums: are they structured progressively so that the amount of the premium is related to your income?  If so, they do not bother me as much as increasing the PST and hydro rates, for example.  Assuming it is like the Ontario medical premium/fee, it will be collected by Revenue Quebec with the income tax and is really no different from a tax.  I think that psychologically, calling something a fee instead of a tax is easier to digest.  Healthcare is important in Canada and we understand that it's not free.  It's not like Quebecers will have to pay the fee per visit or anything like that, is it?

So to summarize my view:  tax increases = unpleasant but necessary to deal with debt and preferable to slashing spending and gov't programs; progressive taxes are better than regressive taxes = so income tax increases are better than increased fees or flat taxes (like PST, hydro, EI premiums etc.)

Unionist

A_J wrote:

Unionist wrote:
I've always found it interesting that we subsidize everyone who drives but not everyone who learns.

Well, considering how low tuition is in Quebec already (less than $2,000 a year), everyone who learns is subsidised. And quite a lot. Just not 100%.

Oh, I'm not complaining about tuition fees in Québec. The struggle here has been very successful. We're only fighting against erosion. I was addressing those "progressives" who are demanding fee hikes.

Quote:
Re increased rates for electricity and taxes on fuel, I'm not quite sure how that "kowtows to the rich" . . . nor how cheap electricity and cheap gasoline is progressive in the face of the threats posed by climate change.

I haven't analyzed the fuel issue personally and so I haven't commented on that. I explained in an earlier post above exactly how increasing residential hydro rates kowtows to the rich. [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/central-canada/qu%C3%A9bec-budget-makes-work... Although I'm sure much more could be written, and much better, on the subject.

 

Unionist

Boom Boom wrote:
I haven't even seen the budget yet, and didn't know it had been presented until I saw this thread.

Don't shoot the messenger!! Laughing

Unionist

Summer wrote:

With respect to user fees for medical premiums: are they structured progressively so that the amount of the premium is related to your income?

Yes and no.

The details aren't available yet, but here's a useful (if it's accurate!) little summary of the two kinds of health insurance tax/user fees introduced:

Quote:
But the most innovative measure in a budget that trims government spending and hikes what citizens pay will come July 1, when an annual $25 (per adult) health "contribution" comes into force.

This health contribution will increase to $100 in 2011 and $200 in 2012 and 2013, at which point it will generate revenues of $945 million a year.

Another proposal, still not finalized, calls for a health tax form on which taxpayers would list how often in the year they saw a doctor.

At $25 a visit, an adult taxpayer would pay $250 more for health care a year after 10 visits, with a ceiling of one per cent of taxable income.

So the health "contribution" is not based on income, while the user fee obviously is partly based, given the 1% cap.

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/make+health+contribution/2745869/s...

Sean in Ottawa

still it is a user fee based on use and not a premium-- this should set up quite a battle as people will go after the Feds if they do not do anything--

Charest to Harper -- "here you go can you hold this? Don't worry about the ticking, you won't feel a thing."

Papal Bull

DaveW wrote:

Ghislaine wrote:

DaveW wrote:

 As for tuition fees,  I am a paying parent, and just this a.m. transferred money (ouch ) to my son's RBC account for McGill expenses;

as such, I say: universities need more money, and as a major revenue stream, tuition has to go up. Otherwise, over the longer term, you just have lousier universities and bigger classes. In Europe, with "free" tuition the results are often painful, esp. for first-year students and researchers.

Well, for those of us whose parents could not afford to pay our tuition and now have massive student loans at criminal interest rates, tuition needs to go down...not up.  I am sorry, but adding that "ouch" in there is just offensive coming from someone who can afford to provide the current tuition and support increases for his children. 

Sorry, the moral-superiority act does not play well: for upper-middle class parents, they pay the full college-fee bill, d'accord.

But when parents/students demonstrably cannot afford that, yes, subsidize them to the max. It comes out kif-kif.

Really?

I want whatever you're smoking. Because us young people do not have access to anything that dank or tripadelic, ask your son.

A_J

One detail that was not included earlier - the regressive taxes (sales tax, electricity rates, gasoline, etc.) will be partially offset with a new credit for low-income earners and people in rural areas:

Montreal Gazette wrote:

To help offset the impact on those who can least afford it, Quebec will be introducing a new "solidarity tax credit" in 2011 that combines, and enhances, three credits it will phase out: the QST credit, the property tax refund and the credit for individuals living in northern villages.

An estimated 2.7 million will receive the monthly solidarity credit, slightly more than the total now benefiting from the other three, and they'll get an average of $174 more than under the current arrangement, the government said.

'Past time' for tax hikes, analysts say

 

 

Unionist

Wow! I almost regret demonstrating today! We'll all be rich!!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Unionist, you kill me! :)

WyldRage

Ignoring the future changes, like the illegal moderation ticket, I understand the need to pay for the services we get in return. I can also understand the desire to increase tariffs that have been frozen or that have not increased at the same rate as inflation. Frankly, I undesrstand and I can accept all the current changes...

 

Except one.

 

The regressive Healthcare tax is a travesty. 2-3 years ago, Charest used the money he received in perequation to offer a tax cut, which had a progressive application, for about one billion dollars. Now, he puts in a new tax, a regressive one, to bring back that billion dollars. He did put in a tax break for the poor (IIRC for a family that makes less than 30 000$), so who gets shafted? The middle class.  Why? So he can say he has not increased les impôts (we make a distinction in French between taxe (on goods) and impôt (on revenue), though they are mostly synonyms).

 

Calling it a Healthcare tax does not make it any les regressive.

Unionist

Thanks to lagatta at BnR for finding this piece in the Gazette by Josée Legault:

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Charest+government+shows+conservativ... government shows its conservative roots[/url]

Quote:
The Charest government now turns to middle- and small-wage earners to cover increasing health-care costs instead of raising some of the taxes it massively decreased over the past years.

Strange? Not really, since this is mostly an ideological choice. Raising taxes - although the most progressive way of assuring public revenues - has simply become taboo.

Instead, this week's budget contains more regressive measures to be applied regardless of personal income levels: hiking various public charges, planned user fees of $25 per medical appointment, and an annual health-care tax to reach $200 per adult by 2012.

This is so inequitable that even the right-wing Action démocratique denounced it. [...]

Québec solidaire's Amir Khadir plans to mount a cross-country coalition to challenge medical user fees, arguing they violate the Canada Health Act. The Parti Québécois refuses to join in. A big mistake. This fight needs all the help it can get.

Stockholm

Doesn't charing user fees for medical visits fly in the face of the Canada Health Act?? Obviously Harper doesn't like the CHA inb the first place so what does he care - and I see that Iggy has applauded the Charest budget (birds of a feather flock together), but shouldn't the NDP come out and say that if it was in power in cut off all federal transfers to Quebec for health care unless the Quebec government goes back to the principles of the Canada Health Act?

genstrike

Hospitals need money, and as a major potential revenue stream, user fees have to go up.  Otherwise, over the longer term, hospitals will get lousier and overcrowded.

But when patients/parents can not demonstrably afford that, yes, subsidize them to the max.  It all comes out kif-kif.

Why should lawyers and a fortirori CEOs be subsidized by the general revenues levies from all taxpayers??

Hospitals are actually quite heavily subsidized. Currently most of a patient's expenses are covered by the government and a lot of the rest by health insurance. The government actually spends MORE, per patient now than they would have 20 or 30 years ago (in adjusted dollars).

...

still never ceases to amaze me either how some people call for increased user fees for education on a progressive board.  Must be what happens when people listen to Bob Rae too much...

Bob McDougall

These premiums, fees and sales taxes are typical conservative taxes and make no mistake Charest is a conservative. They are highly regressive hitting low and middle income people hardest while hardly registering on the bank accounts of the ones most able to pay.

A per visit premium would also disuade people from seeing their MD or instead clogging ERs even more. Would a referral to a specialist then cost an additional fee?

A_J

genstrike wrote:

still never ceases to amaze me either how some people call for increased user fees for education on a progressive board.  Must be what happens when people listen to Bob Rae too much...

But you have no problem with user fees for health care?  Why should education be any different?

Quote:

Universities need money, and as a major potential revenue stream, tuition fees have to go up.  Otherwise, over the longer term, universities and the quality of education gets lousier.

But when students/parents can not demonstrably afford that, yes, subsidize them to the max.  It all comes out kif-kif.

Why should the children of lawyers and a fortirori CEOs be subsidized by the general revenues levies from all taxpayers??

Universities are actually quite heavily subsidized. Currently most of a student's expenses are covered by the government . . .

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Here on the coast, we'd probably visit the clinic nurse more often and take her advice rather than be seen be a doctor - as if nurses here weren't already overworked!

 

ETA: I wonder if the 'user fee' will apply per clinic visit, or just when a patient is actually seen by a doctor?

genstrike

A_J wrote:

genstrike wrote:

still never ceases to amaze me either how some people call for increased user fees for education on a progressive board.  Must be what happens when people listen to Bob Rae too much...

But you have no problem with user fees for health care?  Why should education be any different?

That was the exact point I was trying to make, using sarcasm and applying the same logic as what people were saying about increasing user fees for education to increasing user fees for healthcare.

People have big problems with user fees for health care.  Why should education be any different?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Quebec budget attacks Medicare and other vital public services

Quote: But no one should be under any illusion. Canada’s corporate elite has declared Medicare unsustainable. The Quebec government’s announcement is meant to force Ottawa to open a debate on “modernizing” the Canada Health Act. “It’s not a trial ballon,” insisited Bachand in a post-budget press conference. “It’s a decision.”

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/apr2010/queb-a06.shtml

Fidel

A_J wrote:

genstrike wrote:

still never ceases to amaze me either how some people call for increased user fees for education on a progressive board.  Must be what happens when people listen to Bob Rae too much...

But you have no problem with user fees for health care?  Why should education be any different?

Quote:

Universities need money, and as a major potential revenue stream, tuition fees have to go up.  Otherwise, over the longer term, universities and the quality of education gets lousier.

But when students/parents can not demonstrably afford that, yes, subsidize them to the max.  It all comes out kif-kif.

Why should the children of lawyers and a fortirori CEOs be subsidized by the general revenues levies from all taxpayers??

Universities are actually quite heavily subsidized. Currently most of a student's expenses are covered by the government . . .

I agree with this but only as long as Ottawa insists on using private sources of funding and throwing the country down a debt hole in the process, and only as long as the feds refuse to collect overall tax revenues at even the OECD average and continue to withold billions of dollars in core funding from PSE missing from transfers to the provinces since the 1990s. Education should be considered a right for all, and access to higher education based on merit not ability to pay.

Since the full privatization of money supply in 1991, not just PSE has been short funded. Provinces and municipalities across the country have experienced great difficulties with funding essential services and infrastructure. There has been a concerted effort to soften Canadians to the idea of privatization of long-time public services, like health care and education. The feds tell us that if want better health care services. like exist in France and Sweden, then we should increase private funding. But the truth is that Canada already allows a higher percentage of private funding of total health care dollars than those countries have allowed. And there have been a significant increase in the number of private colleges and skills training facilities across Canada. To further this agenda theyve attempted to create public perception that market solutions are the only solutions to the fiscal problems the feds themselves have created over the last 30-35 years or so with increased borrowing from private sources in Canada and abroad, and by ideologically driven tax cuts for corporations and banks etc. Canada has US style "starve the beast" conservatism, and it's an ideology that's prevalent among political Conservatives and Liberals in Ottawa.

prowsej

The idea of a specific "health tax" seems problematic insofar as it needlessly complicates the tax system and the only reason to favour such a model over a general increase in other income taxes (which is what it is) is political economy considerations, not economic efficiency or help to the poor.

prowsej

Addendum: I take back that previous post. I just read the relevant article in the Nunatsiaq News which hilighted a major difference between a health tax and general taxation: "Quebec also announced an annual health care user fee, which will come into effect this summer and rise to $200 by 2012 - although it's not clear how this will affect beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement who receive free health care under the terms of this deal."

Yiwah

Wow.  This is a great way to not get re-elected.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Can I assume the PQ, if elected next time, will drop the health tax or surcharge?

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