The 2018 federal budget: What's in it for Quebec?

Politicians and community leaders in Quebec say they’re trying hard to find goodies in the federal budget for Quebecers, but they’re coming up short.

Politicians, community groups say budget falls short when it comes to social housing, fighting tax evasion

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau walks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, before tabling the budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Politicians and community leaders in Quebec say they're trying hard to find goodies in the federal budget for Quebecers, but they're coming up short.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão said overall, he's satisfied with the budget but noticed some glaring gaps.

One the one hand, Leitão praised the budget for putting an emphasis on women, children and First Nations.

However, he said investments in infrastructure and the fight against tax evasion came up short.

"In particular, we're disappointed with the federal government's refusal to collect GST on services and intangible property from abroad. It is important that Quebec and Canadian companies be treated fairly, so as not to be disadvantaged compared to their foreign competitors."

Parti Québécois finance critic Nicolas Marceau echoed that, saying that streaming giant Netflix "will still not be obliged to collect taxes."

No new judges

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has been calling on Ottawa to appoint new judges to Quebec Superior Court to unclog the backlog in the justice system.

She was calling for six new judges to be appointed. Instead, Quebec will be getting none.

Rather, the budget allows for the creation of six new judicial positions in Ontario Superior Court and one position for the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Social housing

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she was hoping Ottawa would prioritize social housing in its 2018 budget. (CBC)
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and social housing advocates say they're disappointed with the Trudeau government's lack of new funding for social housing.

"We were asking the federal government to move more quickly on investing money to renovate old social housing, and we don't see this in the budget. So this is disappointing," she said.

The social housing advocacy group FRAPRU agrees. It says about 200,000 Quebecers currently have an annual income of less than $13,000.

"It's impossible for these people and families to find housing in the private market."

Champlain and Jacques Cartier bridges

About $444 million will go toward the Champlain and Jacques Cartier bridges between now and 2023. The money is for the continued maintenance and rehabilitation of the federally owned bridges and other transportation infrastructure in the Montreal area.

$8M for VIA

Between  now and 2021, Ottawa is allocating a total of $8 million to continue an in-depth assessment of VIA Rail's high-frequency rail proposal for the Toronto-Quebec City corridor.

Science, research and innovation

The federal budget boasts the "largest investment in fundamental research ($3 billion) in Canadian history."

It's a move that McGill University is welcoming.

"I am delighted to see increased federal support for fundamental research. This investment will open up opportunities for our country's talented researchers to explore new areas of knowledge and train the next generations of researchers," said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier.

Money for climate change

The province's Climate Change Action Plan will be getting more than $260 million.

"These new investments will allow more farmers and foresters to adopt best practices, more businesses to retrofit their buildings and more industries to find innovative ways to reduce emissions," the budget states.

Better access to English services

The government is spending $400 million across the country over five years to support its Action Plan for Official Languages. Part of that includes money for improved access to services for English-speaking communities of Quebec in their official language.

There is also funding set aside to improve Revenu Québec's website.

Finally, Quebec City's Jean Lesage International Airport will get some new tweaks: new lanes for the pre-clearance of passengers bound for the U.S.