‘Economy risks reaching tipping point’
By Robert Frank
Jean Rousselle makes a point of getting out of his riding office to mingle with his Vimont constituents. You can often find him breakfasting at a local Tim Horton’s or lunching at McDonald’s to sound them out.
“The economy worries them a lot,” reported the riding’s representative in Quebec City. “Many are retired or have no work. They want to know how Quebec will get out of its current rut. How they will pay for groceries.”
“Unfortunately, the Quebec government is only asking them for more money,” Rousselle told The Suburban in an interview. “They’re yanking money out of the budgets of English and French school boards. They’ve increased school taxes. They are asking the population to pay more or are trimming services, like the $56 million that they cut from daycares, with another $40 million in cuts that might follow.”
“Jobs and the economy ought to be the government’s number one priority,” Rousselle suggested.
He questioned the Parti québécois government’s stewardship of the province’s finances.
“The Quebec economy is at risk of a reaching the tipping point,” he declared.
Rousselle noted that the Parti Québécois finance minister Nicolas Marceau has acknowledged his missteps in allowing Quebec’s budget deficit to balloon.
“It led New York bond rating agency Fitch to downgrade Quebec’s financial prospects from “stable” to “negative”, he said. “Playtime is over. The Parti Québécois government is too costly for Quebec families.”
“[Quebec’s] vulnerabilities include global trade links, particularly with the U.S. market, and a significant manufacturing sector,” Fitch warned in a statement last week.
“Quebecers don’t live in a bubble,” Rousselle observed. “We’re part of the world economy. Investors want to know why they should put their money into Quebec. Instead, the government has thrown a monkey wrench into the works, bringing economic initiatives like the Plan Nord to a grinding halt.”
Rousselle likened the economy to a bicycle, which, if it slows down too much, will fall over.
“The wheels of the economy have to keep turning,” he said. “There are many businesspeople in Vimont who, like their counterparts elsewhere in Laval, are quite concerned. I have constituents who do business in China and Thailand. They’re already seeing fewer buyers and consequently cutting staff.”
“You can also witness the adverse spinoff effects taking hold here,” Rousselle added. “People have stopped spending. They’re keeping their cars for seven years, rather than trade them in after five. In addition, restaurants aren’t doing as well, despite the current lead-up to the holidays.”
“Some of them won’t make it,” he predicted.
“I find this quite distressing,” Rousselle concluded. “It’s the worst crisis I’ve seen.”
“We’ve been lucky in Laval, where we’re doing better than the rest of the province,” he acknowledged, “but we can’t remain afloat indefinitely. The economic tsunami will swamp us at some point.”