Minister calls for financial 'cultural revolution'
Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand wants a "cultural revolution" to change the way Quebecers use and pay for public services.
At Monday's meeting with a group of Quebec business people, Bachand said the change would help tackle the province's mounting debt.
Quebec's public services are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the province, Bachand said.
His solution could mean a hike in user fees and other charges for services, which are now either free or mainly subsidized, he said.
Bachand used the example of motorcyclists — who he said pay more for their licences since on average their injuries cost the public more in health costs than other drivers.
He made the remarks as he prepares to cut billions from the provincial budget over the next four years.
Hike in user fees wouldn't help debt: economist
Quebec Treasury Board president Monique Gagnon-Tremblay said Bachand's "cultural revolution" comment is a mystery to her.
Gagnon-Tremblay said she's been asked to trim overall spending growth for the province by 3.2 per cent this year, which could mean spending cuts in several ministries.
"I have no idea," Gagnon-Tremblay said about Bachand's comment. "The committee also talked about the cultural revolution. But, I don't know exactly what it means. I didn't talk with my colleague about that."
Laval University economics professor Bernard Beaudreau told CBC News that the Quebec government may eventually have no choice but to cut the budgets of some public services.
A hike in user fees, however, would do little to remedy Quebec's debt, he said.
"There's no hard evidence that would show that if we introduce all these user fees, that we'll actually restore fiscal discipline," Beaudreau said.
With files from The Canadian Press