By Robert Frank
“Laval can’t afford to be complacent,” warned Jean Rousselle.
The island city’s thriving economy, which defied economic gravity during the last recession, is now at risk, he said in the wake of “a deteriorating Quebec economy and government finances since the Parti québécois was elected.”
“The big cities weren’t hit as hard as the rest of Quebec, which has lost 40,400 jobs since the beginning of the year,” Vimont riding’s representative in Quebec City told The Suburban in an interview. “Private industry here has been driving the economy.”
“In Laval, we even saw an improvement of 2.2 percent, and Montreal and Quebec were also ahead marginally at 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively,” he acknowledged.
Rousselle said that he is concerned that Laval can’t remain an economic outlier indefinitely, while the rest of the province faces an economic tsunami.
“The wave is coming,” he cautioned. “There will be a lag before we feel it but, when it hits, it will be quite something.”
“For example, many Laval companies had been poised to profit from the Plan nord,” Rousselle observed.
Together with the rest of the Laval Liberal caucus—Francine Charbonneau (Mille Îles), Guy Ouellette (Chomedey) and Gilles Ouimet (Fabre)—he called for the Marois government to take concrete steps without delay.
“We’re asking the government to assume its responsibilities and to present an Employment Action Plan to Quebecers in the near term,” they said in a statement, Aug. 22.
In contrast, they observed that “in the rest of Canada, 82,400 jobs were created since the start of 2013.”
One billion in the hole
“[Industry Minister] Hélène Zakaïb said that the Quebec economy is doing well but the latest statistics are troubling,” Rouselle fretted.
Liberal finance critic Raymond Bachand joined the Laval Liberal caucus in warning of “a ripple effect” this year.
In urging the Marois government to come up with “a credible plan to restore fiscal balance”, he admonished the Péquistes not to “control spending by clamping down on taxpayers and the disadvantaged.”
“Laval residents are asking me ‘What will happen to us?’” recounted Rousselle. “They’re worried.”
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