Inflation has hurt the wallets of Quebecers. Surely you’ve felt it every time you went to the grocery store, filled up your gas tank, or made your rent payment.
Compared to its pre-pandemic level, the price of a typical consumer basket has increased by 13.75% in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada data. Unless your salary has grown at the same rate, you have unfortunately become impoverished.
It is likely this data that Finance Minister Eric Girard was looking at when drafting the budget he tabled on Tuesday.
By announcing the reduction of one percentage point in the rates of the first two tax brackets, it allows Quebec households to breathe a little, by committing to take a little less money in their pockets during the year. in progress. This saving is not nothing either. It’s $1.7 billion to help you balance your budget, rather than the government’s. For the average Quebecer, that means $370 more in their pockets at the end of the year.
That being said, chances are you know very few people who would spit on $370 if it fell from the sky. For the highest-taxed taxpayers on the continent, it is therefore a bit of much-needed respite offered to them.
However, the good news is not just financial. In the health sector, for example, what the government of François Legault is offering Quebecers is akin to a small revolution in the way our health establishments are financed, for the benefit of patients.
Currently, hospital funding is largely done by looking at the previous year’s budget and adding a set percentage to it. Thus, from a strictly budgetary point of view, each patient who walks through the doors of a hospital is seen as a cost. In a few specific areas, however, such as radiation oncology, medical imaging, and colonoscopy and endoscopy, the government has tested a so-called “patient-centric” funding model.
In short, the more patients the hospital treats in these areas, the better its budget will be the following year. This type of funding has the effect of encouraging hospital administrators to promote the care and treatment of as many patients as possible. And the results are convincing. Since being tried for colonoscopies and endoscopies in 2018-2019, for example, the volume of these medical procedures has increased by 18% compared to two years before. This has reduced the number of patients who cannot be seen within what is considered reasonable time by 31%. Similar productivity gains have also been observed in radiation oncology and medical imaging.
What the government is telling us in the budget is that it is extending this mode of funding to surgical procedures as of April and that eventually it will be extended to everything it calls physical care within five years.
And it’s not too early. The problem of surgical waiting lists is not new in Quebec, and the pandemic has not helped either. As of December 31, there were 20,649 Quebecers who had been waiting for surgery for over a year. And that’s not counting all those who have been waiting for a few months in pain and worry.
That being said, no budget is perfect. The fact that the Quebec government will continue to take on debt, despite the context of rising interest rates, is worrying. This year, a $4 billion deficit will be added to our collective credit card. When you consider that Quebecers are already wasting $9.5 billion a year to cover the cost of past borrowings, there is cause for concern.
This does not prevent the government from tabling the budget that Quebeckers need.