08/10/2012 04:18 EDT | Updated 10/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Québec Solidaire vows free tuition, more tax on rich

Québec Solidaire projects it could generate a surplus within five years while increasing spending on health, education and infrastructure.

Taxes on the rich and big corporations would rise, but so would spending on daycare, public housing and universities under the party's budget plan, released Friday.

"Those big corporate businesses that control our economy since decades now have brought a lot of politicians to indulge in policies that advantage corporations and the wealthiest among us," Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Amir Khadir said while announcing the fiscal plan.

"We have shown in this financial framework… we can better engage a transformation of our economy, to put it at the service of our citizens, to put it at the service of well-distributed wealth. Prosperity is not only for the richest among us."

The party's financial platform includes spending on:

- A guaranteed minimum annual income of $12,000 for all working-age adults.

- 50,000 new public housing units.

- Free university tuition.

- 40,000 new daycare spaces.

- Abolition of the $200-a-year health tax.

But those pricey programs would be paid for by:

- $2.7 billion in savings by buying more medicines in bulk and making generic drugs cheaper.

- $2 billion from higher royalties on mining and water use by large companies.

- $950 million from ceasing payments to the provincial debt-reducing Generations Fund.

- $300 million from a crackdown on tax evaders.

- $200 million in savings from eliminating corruption in public contracts.

Other measures include raising the income-tax rate for big corporations to 15 per cent from the current 11.9 per cent, and $5 billion in additional spending over 30 years on public transit.

The party estimates its proposed personal income-tax rates would be no different than the Liberal government's current rates for people making between $40,000 and $100,000 a year. Below that range, Quebecers would pay less tax; above it, they would pay more.

Khadir said that means about 80 per cent of middle-class and low-income earners will see an increase in take-home income, while the wealthiest 10 per cent would have a "very small" increase in their taxation level.

"But our economy would be at the service of its citizens to share the prosperity, not only to ensure the profit of corporate business and banks," he said.

Québec Solidaire will have a chance to outline its financial vision in the first leaders debate Aug. 19, when co-spokesperson Françoise David will go up against the heads of the three other major provincial parties. But David is being excluded from a series of subsequent one-on-one debates between party leaders organized by private television network TV. Those will be broadcast Aug. 20, 21 and 22.