Hydro-Québec indirectly subsidizes the wind power sector to the tune of $695 million a year, which amounts to some $200 per Quebec household to produce a tiny fraction of the province's energy. With an estimated 40 billion barrels of oil, developing this resource would provide a minimum of $160 million a year in royalties for the Quebec treasury over 30 years.
While the government has talked the talk on taxes, it has yet to walk the walk. In fact, the fiscal update announced additional tax increases including plans to levy a temporary (until 2017) increase to payroll taxes on financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. Quebec's fiscal problems run deep so small fixes won't cut it. More fundamental reform is needed to put Quebec on the right fiscal track.
As the saying goes, the first step is overcoming denial and the premier's recent comments suggest he understands the magnitude of Quebec's fiscal problems. The next step requires a bold plan to rein in government debt and improve tax competitiveness. The upcoming budget is a chance to move the province forward.
This just in: Both in France and in Quebec, the law of gravity holds! As does mathematical reality. Here as there, politicians are just now discovering a fact that some of us have been tirelessly repeating for years: Too much tax kills tax. In France, after having continually raised taxes, politicians are realizing that they have hit a wall.
Over the years, Quebec has earned a reputation as being hostile to business due to persistent anti-business policies. As a consequence, Montreal has declined as a hub for major corporate headquarters. With a lower concentration of large corporate headquarters, the city loses out on many economic benefits. The government of Quebec should take seriously the long term decline of Montreal as a major corporate hub.