Premier Jean Charest and the Liberal Party of Quebec are looking to win a second term in office. Charest’s message is that a vote for the Liberals is a vote for responsible government aimed at controlling spending and making sure Quebec plays a prominent role within Canada
The Concordian spoke with Minister of Sports and Education Jean-Marc Fournier to discuss what they plan to do to finance higher education.
“We plan to invest over 1 billion in education if we are elected,” said Fournier. “We are asking a contribution from all Quebecers, including the students to help fund higher education.”
The Liberals claim they have increased the education budget by $1.6 billion in the last four years, one-third of it going to universities.
“We want to re-invest the money that was taken away during 1994 from the Federal transfers for higher education,” said Fournier.
In 2008-2009 the Liberals planned to allocate $320 million towards CEGEPs and universities.
Fournier said he would like to see increased grants from private companies to help fund education, but said they couldn’t legislate it.
“If you expect us to pass a law that will force companies to contribute more to education because of what is being done in other provinces then you’re wrong. We won’t do that,” said Fournier.
In Ontario, private companies offer grants for $20,000 and $25,000 at certain universities at the undergraduate level. In Quebec the number is considerably lower.
The Liberal Party says health is a priority. They say they started to improve the system in 2003 and they will stay on that route.
The party says they have reduced waiting lists for people who need surgery and have increased the number of nurses. They believe there is more to do and these efforts revolve around several priorities like adding more doctors, nurses and services and making sure people have access to these services.
Liberals claim they have worked hard to increase the number of admissions in medicine and nursing in the recent years. If they get elected, they plan on adding 1,500 more doctors and 2,000 more nurses by 2012.
The Liberals promise that people in need of treatments will be treated in a time frame of six months. The Liberals have adopted a law that would allow for the creation of private clinics. In the case where a patient will not have been treated inside his six-month period, the Liberals are committed to have the state pay for the operation.
The Liberals claim they have reorganized emergency admittance and increased admission by 20 per cent.
The Liberals would mandate a program to facilitate readaptation into society for people such as drug addicts, women victim of abuses, homeless people, or compulsive gamers.
A more prominent role would be given to youth centres and a greater effort to reduce the number of suicides.
The Liberals also want to eliminate “junk food,” soft drinks and candies present in school vending machines. They want to encourage health by promoting it at school and offering a $500 income tax credit on the price of a subscription in a sport activity for parents paying for a child under 16.
Quebec is at the forefront in the fight against global warming in North America, according to the Liberals. Their Green Fund would contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tons. Another 3.8 million tons could be saved with the help of the federal government to comply with the Kyoto accord by 2012.
They plan to add $650 million to the public transit system in a bid to increase its use by 8 per cent.
In their first mandate, the Liberals had introduced a $1,000 QST credit for consumers who purchase hybrid cars with low fuel consumption. They plan on doubling the credit if they are reelected.
PLQ promises to:
Invest $1 billion in education, with contributions from all Quebecquers including students.
Add 20,000 more places in daycare centres
Devote a minimum of $580 million a year to the fight climate change
Promote health with a $500 income tax credit for children’s sports activities.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tons.
Increase use of public transport by 8 per cent.
Add $650 million over five years to public transit.
Increase the number of doctors in the province by 1,500 and nurses by 2,000
Guarantee surgery within 6 months