NEWS

Jobs top Quebec election campaign promises

08/03/2012 09:42 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT
Campaign pledges stacked up on Friday, with Quebec political parties promising everything from family doctors for every resident to creating jobs and new economic plans.

The Liberal Party talked up its Plan Nord and the 250,000 jobs it believes the program will create. Meanwhile, the Coaltion Avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Parti Québécois jabbed away at the alleged corruption resting within the current Quebec government.

CAQ offers doctors for everyone

CAQ leader François Legault said structuring more family doctors into a group practice environment would ease pressure on the province's overburdened health-care sector.

The result, he said, would be shorter wait times in emergency rooms, fewer trips to private clinics and more reliable treatment options. The plan, which CAQ says would be implemented within a year, could give doctors more time to treat patients.

Liberals for aging workers

The Liberal leader's caravan held an event at a seniors' community centre in Laval, where Charest announced new measures for Quebec's older citizens.

A $426-million plan would keep experienced workers in the workforce longer. The Liberals also want to encourage businesses to retain older employees and promised to reduce taxes for those that hire workers over 65-years-old.

They also want to subsidize the salaries of some workers over age 55 and help older workers make the transition to other jobs if needed.

Charest reflected on the work done in Quebec to get women to join the workforce decades ago and compares this new promise to the workplace revolution.

"We have done it for the women, now, we will do it for experienced workers and to help the whole of Quebec society. We will do it for the experienced workers, for Quebec's economy and for employment. We'll do it for Quebec."

Marois talks business startups

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois, who is making her first stop of the day at an ecological interpretation centre in Sorel-Tracy, will talk about the party's economic platform.

Marois said a PQ government would try to claim this province's portion of funding from the federal Business Development Bank of Canada.

"We have the political want to enrich every Quebecer of every region from the province," said Marois.

She said the PQ aims to support entrepreneurs and maintain business startups that use the province's natural resources.

"We need to add a new development bank that will take more risks, make long-term capital available and give additional help and leverage to local business development centres," said Marois.

Charest raises referendum risk

Today's announcements come after a promise-heavy first full day of campaigning Thursday. The leaders of the three front-running parties talked about economy, the student crisis and corruption while whisking through several key ridings.

Liberal party leader Jean Charest, seeking his fourth term as premier, also made a point of highlighting his position that a vote not cast for his party would move the province once step closer to a referendum.

While neither the PQ nor the CAQ has explicitly highlighted Quebec sovereignty in their announcements made since the campaign launched earlier this week, Charest said the PQ is downplaying its stance on separatism and the CAQ was already planning to dismantle English school boards in the province.

"We have been very supportive of a society that is inclusive. Our party believes fundamentally that the future of Quebec is that of a society that affords a place for every one of its citizens and communities, including those who speak English," said Charest.

During her tenure, people have been vocal about Marois' downplaying of an explicit sovereignty push.

Jean-Martin Aussant, leader of Option Nationale – a sovereigntist party – left the PQ in 2011, saying Marois had softened her stance on Quebec independence in order to seek more electoral support.

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