Where would you cut to balance the budget?


If you haven’t yet read John’s piece about how difficult it’s going to be to balance the budget, what are you waiting for? In much the same vein, the good folks at Léger Marketing (yes, this is another poll-related story) have released the results of a survey in which they asked Quebecers where they would cut if they were given free rein to get Quebec City back in the black.

Here are the top 10 suggestions:

  1. End the financing of private schools.
  2. Significantly increase taxes on business.
  3. Allow the establishment of fully-private health clinics.
  4. Introduce tolls on certain bridges and roads.
  5. Bring in a system to moderate access to health services.
  6. Abolish school boards.
  7. Close down Quebec’s diplomatic outposts.
  8. Significantly increase the user fees for $7 per day daycare.
  9. Abolish CEGEPs and tack on an extra year for high school.
  10. Significantly reduce subsidies for festivals and cultural events.

The last item on the list is especially intriguing—I seem to recall there being a bit of a backlash last time someone tried it. Otherwise, no big suprises, except perhaps that Quebecers really don’t seem to have much of a problem with user fees.


Where would you cut to balance the budget?

  1. 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10 are fine with me.

    Oh, and don't introduce anything stupid like a Green Shift or something.

    • Why? The Green shift was to tax things and behaviour that cost us a lot a will cost a lot to clean up. Think like the taxes on cigarettes while not the only thing that encouraged people to stop polluting their and everyone else's lungs it was (is) a powerful tool to encourage (goad) us to stop smoking or not start at all. Why would we not do the same on thing that pollute and cost a lot to clean up?

    • If you think Green Shift is stupid, why are you not insisting that gas taxes be reduced to zero?

  2. Treat capital gains as regular income, with a certain lifetime exemption for each personal Canadian.

    Problem solved.

    • It`s not really that simple. Treating capital gains as regular income would discourage investment.

      • Given the results of the over-exuberance in the stock market, perhaps investments that are only undertaken because of the capital gains rules should be discouraged.

        • The "over-exuberance" was mostly due to the American markets. Canadian public companies rely primarily on Canadian investment, and to a much lesser extent on foreign investment. Any attempt to discourage Canadian investment through increased taxation would have a detrimental effect on the Canadian economy.

      • Absolutely it's not that simple and other alterations to the basic idea may be necessary. But as a general rule I would like to see somebody who cashes in a profit of $100,000 on stocks treated the same way who earns $100,000 cash at a job.

        • Yes, but what about the couple who buys a house in 1952, raises their family, has a mortgage burning party, then sells the house to provide funds for their retirement residence? Now imagine you are that couple's child.

          • Unless the couple bought the house cash, you would have to take into account all expenses related to the house – the interest they would have paid on the life of the mortage, typicall two to three times the amount of the principal, the amount of property tax they would have paid over 50 years, the amount of money they put towards the maintenance of the house – the new furnace, roofs, etc… The gain would not be the difference between the purchase amount and the sale amount – and who knows you may have more losses than you'd think!!!

          • Very true–except for the part about the taxes, I don't think that counts, the same as your hydro bills–but I would suggest to you that a house purchased in 1952 would very likely have earned $100,000 in value (at least) in the intervening years. At least it would in my part of Canada, barring being completely ripped off by some maintenance contractor. My aunt bought a brand-new three bedroom house around that time. She paid $1,600 and sold it two years ago for $400,000+

            However, I have just remembered the principal residence exemption, so if we kept that this example wouldn't apply anyway.

          • The principal residence exemption should probably stay, although maybe a 1% tax on the value of the home could be imposed or something.

  3. Mike, that's the most intelligent suggestion for a tax *increase* I've heard in twenty years. Seriously. The lifetime exemption is a brilliant touch.

    • Do you really think that it hasn't been suggested before? Nobody has ever done it, because it's a demonstrable flop. Overtaxing capital gains is the very best way to discourage investment in Canadian companies… you know, the very same companies that give Canadians jobsand that pay taxes to the government.

      • Well, they kind of did used to do it. When I first got started with tax returns, you only had a 25% capital gains deduction, plus a $100,000 lifetime exemption. So, you were taxed on 75% of your gain once you'd used up your $100,000. I think that is how it worked anyway.

        • Yes, but they weren't taxing capital gains and income at the same rate. What Mike T. is really proposing is an increase in capital gains taxes.

  4. I assume you mean Quebec City in the same way that Ontario talks about Queens Park…otherwise it would be weird.

    Do other provinces not have names for their capital regions/buildings?

  5. I agree with 6,7 and 9

    The rest suck.

  6. That's ten out of how many exactly?

  7. I assume you mean get Quebec City back in the black. Getting it in the red is easy.

    I love Quebeckers. You may think it is contradictory for them to cut funding to festivals, but they are doing the cutting, not having it imposed upon them. All the difference needed. And I love the one about getting rid of school boards.

    • So when Harper does it, it's bad, but when Quebec does the exact same thing, it's good.

      • I believe this is the same reasoning that gets applied to Education or Social Assistance.

        When the federal government does it, it's bad, when the province does it, it's fine.

        • I believe that's the BQ Mantra.

      • Well, that and the fact that when Quebec does it to Quebec, it is saving Quebec taxpayers money. When Canada does it to Quebec it is saving Canadian taxpayers money. Geez, Crit.

        • Quebec contributes 22 cents of every federal dollar that gets spent in Quebec. Taxpayers in the rest of Canada pay the other 78 cents. I completely understand why Quebecers would boo cuts in federal spending while cheering cuts in provincial spending. When the federal government does it, it proves that the federal government is composed of evil redneck ultra-right philistines. When the province does it, it proves that the province is fiscally responsible.

          • There you go.

            It is also fair to say that Quebec is not the only province who understands economics in this way.

          • The problem for Quebec's continued dependency, and possibly national unity, is that more and more contributing Canadians are learning to count…

  8. 3,7,8,9,10 look good to me.

    2 will actually increase their deficit as businesses flee and companies outside Quebec choose to invest elsewhere.

    1 is also backwards, since private education is better quality and thus they might as well be cutting public schools instead.

    4 and 6 seem like a strange way to raise money.

  9. 3. Allow the establishment of fully-private health clinics.
    4. Introduce tolls on certain bridges and roads.
    5. Bring in a system to moderate access to health services.
    6. Abolish school boards.
    7. Close down Quebec's diplomatic outposts.
    8. Significantly increase the user fees for $7 per day daycare.
    10. Significantly reduce subsidies for festivals and cultural events.


    I look at that list and wonder why Cons can't do better in Quebec than they do. Quebec is odd mix that always leaves me confused: they seem to be very left wing but they don't pay as much attention to political correctness as Anglos are made to, or something like that. Quebecers seem much more willing to have debates about issues than msm does in english canada.

    I was thinking of what a top 10 list would look like for Ont and I would be amazed if half the Quebec ideas made the list – particularly about health care and getting rid of board of eds. Quebecers can be quite conservative but Cons are incapable of benefiting.

    • Quebec is not such a nirvana.

      In Quebec, all debates are overshadowed and influenced by a single issue, we all know which one. That becomes stale after a while.

      Quebecers are willing to entertain ideas about private health clinics because they're so broke. Governments have no money and citizens are taxed to death. Give us a few more years of McGuinty deficits and you'll see more talk about private clinics in Ontario. Sooner or later, socialists run out of other peoples' money.

  10. # 3, 6, 7, 8, & 10 and treat Capital Gains as regular Income with no restrictions.This list should apply right across the Country, and certainly in Ontario.

  11. How exactly was the poll conducted and measured? Presumably, those responding were given a list of such options. Were they asked which ones they agreed with, or were they only asked to choose which one they liked the most? If it was the latter, then is the apparent high support for each of these options only a significant minority (but still a minority) who find the idea attractive? Further, a lof of these ideas may sound good at first blush, but just because they get instant grunts of support does not mean that they are deeply popular, and certainly not necessarily good ideas. People may think little of school boards, or imagine them to be expensive, but they could only be replaced by agencies of the education department — not promising in terms of local control or saving money. I dislike some private schools, and the especially the attitude of some middle-class quebecois that their teenagers cannot be well served in the public system, but these schools do earn their Quebec government subsidy.

    • In Ontario, the role of the school board has diminished to being the unpopular bastards who close your kids' school. The curriculum, the contracts with the teachers and staff, all that stuff is now done by Queen's Park anyway. I totally hate falling into the line of "first break the system, then point out the system doesn't work" but they have and it doesn't anymore. We might as well save the money.

  12. "what are you waiting for?"

    A non-Marxist Canadian journalist to say something that make sense for once? Seriously, Geddes or any other Canadian journo has zero to teach the Canadian people on fiscal conservatism. Where was he when the country was spazzing out over the Fake Recession and demanding tens of billions in stimulus?

    "I look at that list and wonder why Cons can't do better in Quebec than they do." – Straight racism, straight identity politics.

    They identify Conservatives as roast beef eating Anglos and therefore hate them, same reason as immigrants – who are massively more conservative than Canadians – hate Conservatives. Straight, 100% racism. Lee Kwan Yew was right: you cannot have democracy in a multi-ethnic state, each ethnic group will vote as a bloc even if it means supporting parties that do not share their ideological views. French Quebeckers will look for any excuse not to support a party they perceive as the Anglo party, no matter how bad the alternative is.

  13. I have a major, MAJOR issue with suggestion 9 to "abolish CEGEP and tack a year on to highschool." Do you seriously WANT to give the PQ what it wants? All those kids/young adults who were either forced into the french school system or chose to go there will end up stuck there thus losing the opportunity to choose what language their higher education is taught to them in. Abolishing CEGEP will effectively apply bill 101 rules to students who are old enough to make their own choices. In a province that breaks international law (UN) that states that it is the parent's sole right to choose the language of instruction and not the state, abolishing CEGEP would be yet another willful step backwards and a lot of people would be blind to the consequences before it's too late. Just like the municipal mergers/demergers – No going back now.

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