March 10, 2020
Québec Budget Goes Green, Invests $15.8B in Transit
Québec Finance Minister Eric Girard tabled a green-focused budget today, investing billions to make the province an environmental leader, including $15.8 billion for public transit projects.
The budget, the second by Girard since the Coalition Avenir Quebec took power in 2018 under Premier Francois Legault, forecasts a balanced budget for the coming year with estimated revenues of $121.3 billion and a projected surplus of $2.7 billion deposited in the Generations Fund. Growth in the province is expected to reach two per cent in 2020, outstripping that of Canada for the third year in a row.
Of particular note, the province will invest $6.7 billion over the next six years to better adapt to the effects of climate change and to meet the 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, of which increasing public transit use will pay a significant role.
Québec’s gross debt is estimated at just under $200 billion — approximately 43 per cent of the province’s GDP. The government’s objective of reducing the gross debt to 45 per cent of GDP has been achieved six years ahead of schedule, Girard noted in his budget address.
This is enabling Québec to increase its capital funding by $15 billion in the 2020-2030 Québec Infrastructure Plan. The plan will now invest $130.5 billion, Girard said, to replace outdated infrastructure and manage the asset maintenance deficit, as well as build infrastructure to support economic growth and development.
Approximately 61 per cent of this funding will go towards asset maintenance, which the province estimates will increase its proportion of infrastructure in good condition from 60.8 per cent in March 2020 to 70.7 per cent in March 2030.
The infrastructure-related highlights included:
- $25.5 billion in education and higher education infrastructure investments, including $19.2 billion for primary and secondary schools under the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan.
- Details on the government’s commitment to improve higher education infrastructure will be announced at a later date.
- $20.5 billion in investments for the health and social services sector over the next decade.
- The amount earmarked for construction of new or improvement of existing infrastructure is $11.1 billion.
- $15.8 billion for public transit.
- A number of projects that are being carried out, planned or under study will make it possible to improve electric public transit services in six cities and regions:
- Gatineau (linking western part of Gatineau to downtown Ottawa);
- Montréal (linking the eastern, northeastern and southwestern parts of the city to the downtown);
- Laval (extend the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) to central Laval and connect the eastern and western parts of Laval);
- Longueuil (Taschereau Boulevard and extension of the metro's yellow line); and
- Montérégie (extend the REM on the south shore in order to serve the Chambly–Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu area).
- In addition to the Québec government, other partners will be called on to contribute financially to these new projects, including: the federal government, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada Infrastructure Bank and public transit authorities.
- For tramway and light train projects, the government will use the leeway afforded in trade agreements to support the development of Québec’s rail industry.
- $172 million to upgrade and modernize port infrastructure; promote the use of cabotage and river shuttle networks to help fight climate change; implement telecommunications coverage across Québec’s maritime territory; as well as give new impetus to industrial port zones and logistics hubs.
- $180 million over five years in additional support to municipalities for local road maintenance.
- $70.2 million to improve railway network safety; increase the use of rail transportation by businesses in their supply chain; maintain and improve the railway network under Québec jurisdiction and its resilience against the effects of climate change.
Mitigating flood risks
- $473 million to mitigate risks related to flooding.
- $34.8 million from 2020-2025 to acquire, restore, outfit and convert heritage buildings to serve as cultural centres.
- $15 million towards a study examining the integration of transportation, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region, in partnership with Cree communities.
The full Québec budget documents can be accessed by clicking here.