Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the new provincial budget, tabled Thursday in Quebec City, is "bang on" and boasts important investments that will benefit Montrealers.
"As a mayor of Montreal, and the perspective of a partnership with the government of Quebec who is respecting his metropolis, I think they're bang on this year," Coderre said.
Taking part in public infrastructure programs
Coderre said one of the highlights in the budget is Quebec's plans to allow municipalities to take part in public infrastructure projects.
In its budget, the government said it recognizes that "some municipalities may be interested in contributing to the Caisse's (de Dépôt et placement du Québec) public transit projects since the scope of these projects would meet their citizens' needs."
In its 2016-2017 budget, the government confirmed it submitted two electrification projects to the Caisse for analysis:
- the public transit system on the new Champlain bridge.
- the Train de l'Ouest.
Coderre said it's a sign that major cities like Montreal will play a bigger role in the province.
"Clearly, in my book, there is something very important when you permit municipalities to participate in some infrastructure project that's financed by the Caisse de Dépôt. Now it's a new definition of partnership," Coderre said. "For me it means that now, truly, in a very concrete way, you're defining that municipalities are not a provincial creature anymore — this is a level of government."
Besides the two electrification projects, the budget also mentioned extending the STM Metro's Blue line to Anjou, in Montreal's east end.
"The priority is public transit. The Blue line must be extended," Coderre said Thursday at a press conference in the hours after the budget was tabled.
Coderre said this was another example of how the new budget will give a boost to Montreal's sustainable development.
About 1,500 brand new social housing units will be built.
"Social housing is important...and the fact that it's not one-size-fits-all. It's truly the Quebec model... It sends a really good message," Coderre said.
In its budget, the government announced it will invest $25 million over five years for its ClimatSol-Plus program, which is aimed at decontaminating lands with strong economic development potential.
Cité de la logistique, a major industrial development in Montreal's east end could qualify for the program. So could an area located near the Port of Montreal, near the Assomption Sud sector, which stretches to Autoroute 25.
"We could revitalize some sites in east end...which is great," Coderre said.
Immigrants and foreign students
To foster the retention of foreign students and encourage entrepreneurship, particularly among immigrants, the government will invest $2 million to launch two initiatives:
- support for Montréal International for a project to retain foreign students;
- support for the HEC Montréal program entrePrism, created to foster entrepreneurship among immigrants.
Other highlights include:
- $2 billion for improvements to Quebec's road network in 2016-2017.
- A new strategy and more investment in Quebec's aerospace industry, totalling $70 million over five years.
- Lowering the eligible age for the tax credit for experienced workers to 62 by 2018.
- $4.9 million for new initiatives to combat sexual violence and support gender equality.
- $164 million more in education for 2016-2017.
- $735 million earmarked for increases in health and social services
- Elimination of the health tax, introduced in 2010, by the end of 2017.
- Give homeowners a 20 per cent credit on eligible home renovation projects up to $10,000.