Quebec Budget

For a stronger Quebec, let's be courageous when it comes to housing

Large reaction budget qc 2022

The budget of the Minister of Finance, Éric Girard, confirms the fears that have been circulating for some time now. In spite of the strong rent increases and the housing crisis that is now raging in all regions of Quebec, the Legault government is closing its eyes and proposing cosmetic solutions that are far from meeting the needs of the population.

Yet the government has no shortage of resources to solve the housing crisis once and for all, since it will spend $3.2 billion on its flagship measure to pay $500 to every adult earning $100,000 or less.

Leaving renter households already strangled by rents that assume the lion's share of their budget to their fate is certainly not the way to address the basic need of all Quebecers to have decent housing at a price they can afford. In fact, the government is contributing to making households even more vulnerable.

While it claims to be working to make Quebec more efficient, the government is adopting strategies that run counter to its objectives. In doing so, it ignores the contribution of collective entrepreneurship and the social economy, while housing cooperatives, among others, have proven for 50 years that they provide innovative solutions in housing by focusing on self-management, diversity and inclusion. In turn, the people who live there find a living environment where mutual aid, empowerment and democracy shape their daily lives.

By underfunding the housing sector and shirking its responsibilities, the government is keeping many households in a precarious situation, a source of intense stress and psychological distress that hinders the productivity of workers, and therefore of businesses, an issue that is so dear to its heart.

In fact, according to a 2019 study commissioned by the Canadian Payroll Association, 46% of respondents reported spending 3.5 hours per week on financial issues. To be clear, financial stress causes significant losses for companies. Again according to this study, "for an organization with 200 employees, work distractions caused by financial stress could cost $1,000 per employee, or just over $200,000 per year." And again, this study was done before the pandemic!

Having a decent home should not be a luxury. Feeling safe and secure, being comfortable in your home, is the foundation. As previously demonstrated, the current issues related to real estate overheating are numerous and are detrimental to Quebec households. The current context certainly forces us to reflect on the role of the State in ensuring a roof that meets the needs and the ability to pay of households.

We therefore urge the government to review its vision and priorities. Let's be bold on housing. Housing must be seen as a societal project and be the subject of a national policy with investments commensurate with the crying needs of a growing number of households. This is the way to forward for a stronger Quebec.

Patrick Préville
Executive director