Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Analysis | Magali Picard, Eric Girard and the cost of life

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The president of the FTQ, Magali Picard, finally canceled her planned trip to Dubai for COP28. (Archive photo)

  • Gérald Fillion (View profile)Gérald Fillion

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Faced with the rising cost of living, public actors have no room for error. The majority of households in Quebec are currently having to live with a tight wallet, an increase in their mortgage payments, rent costs and food prices which have increased significantly. And the holiday season promises to be financially stressful.

The least they can do for public figures like the president of the FTQ, Magali Picard, and the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, is to remember how difficult the current period is for millions of families.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">People, all over Quebec, are exasperated by inflation for a year and a half, by the grocery basket which costs more, by housing which is becoming inaccessible , by public and private services which are battered by the lack of labor.

Many families must negotiate the renewal of their mortgage term at a higher interest rate every week. Most have to pay 30%, 35%, 40% more every payment, every two weeks, or every month. It is enormous! And it's stressful.

The number of insolvencies filed in October 2023 was up 27% compared to the same month in 2022 in Canada, up almost 26% for consumers and 63% for businesses. Many small business owners are in financial difficulty and are unable to repay emergency loans made during the pandemic on time.

Rising prices and rising interest rates are hitting many people hard, people who are experiencing uncertainty and who are worried about the medium-term effect of these pressures on their finances. They expect from public decision-makers a real, sincere, convinced, unfailing commitment to improving their lot.

This is why, it seems to me, the unions have strong support from the population in their negotiations with the government. Quebecers know how demanding the pandemic has been for the people who work in our schools, in our hospitals, in CHSLDs. If we decipher popular support correctly, public sector workers deserve to have their salaries increased beyond inflation and their working conditions to be significantly improved.

The public is sensitive to this because people recognize themselves in the demands of public sector employees.

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Eric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec, had to defend the project to welcome the Los Angeles Kings to Quebec for two preseason games.< /p>

So… announce $5 to $7 million in subsidies to pay for expenses related to the Los Angeles Kings coming to Quebec for exhibition hockey games while refusing to grant substantial salary increases to nurses and to teachers, or after giving $10 million instead of $18 million to food banks, this is certainly a lack of sensitivity that does not go away. This is what Minister Eric Girard did two weeks ago.

And… leaving for Dubai, for COP28, in the middle of a strike of 420,000 public sector employees while negotiations are stalling, strikers are freezing on the sidewalk, tension is rising between the government and the unions and that a conciliator was appointed to try to bring the parties together, it is also a lack of sensitivity towards the workers and towards the population, which massively supports the strikers. Yet this is what Magali Picard, the president of the FTQ, has just done.

You have to come out of your bubble and listen to what people say.

All governments have difficulty finding solutions to the cost of living, which reduces their popularity. It’s the economy, stupid!said James Carville, advisor to Bill Clinton in the early 1990s. This truth seems to be even more true today: citizens expect from public actors solutions, conviction, consistency and a determination to improve their quality of life.

One month before Christmas, we already know that households must reduce their spending for the holiday season compared to past years. According to a Deloitte survey, planned spending is 11% lower this year, with an expected drop of 18% for gifts. Half of Canadians plan to buy only the essentials for the holidays, a quarter plan to reduce spending on groceries.

Wasting millions of dollars on an event like that of the Kings in Quebec while making a speech of budgetary prudence, as Eric Girard did, sorry, but it is insulting to the citizens who must tighten their belts. And when Magali Picard decides to go to Dubai in a context of social tensions and strikes, even if the cause of climate change could not be more important, the perception is stronger than anything.

By admin

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