Quebec Votes

Philippe Couillard promises to phase out health tax

The Quebec Liberal Party says it would return Quebec to the path of prosperity by using the projected surplus to reduce the provincial debt and cut taxes.

Quebec Liberal Party unveils its economic platform, says it's time to return to path of prosperity

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard unveiled his party's economic platform on Tuesday. (CBC)

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard says his government would put Quebec back on track by using the budget surplus projected for 2015-2016 to reduce the provincial debt and cut taxes.

Couillard unveiled his party's economic platform in Bécancour, Que. on Tuesday. 

Couillard, the self-branded politician of "real issues," said it's time for the truth to come out, and challenged Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois to debate him on the state of Quebec's economy.

Couillard's challenge comes just days before the leaders of Quebec's four main political parties will face off in a live debate on Thursday starting at 8 p.m. ET.

“The time has come to put Quebec back on the path of prosperity ... it’s clear this will require focus, patience and concentration. Certainly not the time to take Quebec down the path of a referendum and separation,” Couillard said.

The Liberal leader predicted his government would be able to obtain a surplus of $1,751 million by the 2015-2015 fiscal year. He said he would devote half of that money to paying off the province's debt and the other half to reducing taxes. 

In the budget tabled before the dissolution of the national assembly, the former PQ government said it would maintain its debt reduction objectives, maintaining its deposits to the Generations Fund in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016, and then increasing them in 2016-2017.

As of March 31, 2013, Quebec's gross debt stood at $191,756 million or 53.6 per cent of the GDP.

Couillard announced a number of other initiatives on Monday, including: 

  • Gradually phasing out the health tax over four years starting in 2016-2017.
  • Increase the cost of public daycare fees by linking them to inflation.
  • Reviewing government programs to cut $1.3 billion in spending over the next two years.
  • Increasing spending for health and education ministries by 4 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively, per year. 
  • Freeze spending for other ministries over the next five years. 

Couillard also said a Liberal government would rein in government spending and create a standing committee under the purview of the Treasury Board to review government programs and review their management.