The 2017-2018 budget, tabled on March 28 was the second last of this government before the calling of the next elections. For us, it is clearly an opportunistic pre-electoral budget which responds to a pattern of governance that is a little too predictable. The idea is simple: plunge public services into a paralyzing austerity and give oneself the necessary wiggle room to then announce reinvestments or the lowering of income taxes just in time for the next elections. A recent report even demonstrated that at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the Couillard Government would have squandered a significant enough surplus not to be faced with the contradictions raised by their favourable position on austerity.
First, this way of doing things politically really increases the population’s cynicism for the political institutions. That is not foreign to the growing lack of interest that we have even seen when going to the polls.
Moreover, it is false to think that when all is said and done, that the austerity measures do not have an impact on the services for the people. It would have been nice to hear about investments in health care today, than what do we do with a patient who did not have access to the required care at the time that he needed it, or the students deprived of a psychoeducator? Reinvesting is one thing, but this reinvestment has to compensate the accumulated losses during the cutbacks.
Lastly, what we find with the 2017-2018 budget is that the money invested in health will certainly stop the hemorrhage that the public healthcare network has gone through, but we are still a long way from a reinvestment which would ensure an improvement in access to care, as well as safe, quality care. An increase of 3.6% in the budget dedicated to services to the population, even if it is higher than those seen over the last few years, is a long way from giving the resources necessary for resolving the problems of the healthcare professionals, which include an excessive workload and compulsory overtime.