By P.A. Sévigny
It’s the first week of the new year and there are more than a few signs that the province’s party is well and truly over. While the government is determined to cut services, it is also determined to raise the revenue it needs to balance its budget and begin the work that’s required to reduce the province’s massive debt.
As of the first of January, Quebec’s provincial car insurance fees will rise by four percent after which each and every driver’s license in the province will cost $1.35 more than it did last year. While the recent dip in the price of gas may provide some degree of financial relief to the city’s suburban drivers, they’re still going to pay two cents more per litre in order to make up for what the government is charging Quebec’s assorted energy distributors for all of their new carbon tax credits.
For all of the others who have already (for all intents and purposes) given up trying to drive in the city, the city’s STM (Société de Transport de Montréal) has already raised the price of its popular Opus card from last year’s $80-$82.50 for 30 days of service. Transit users in Laval will have to pay another three percent across the board for all of their public transit while transit users on the south shore will now be paying $92.50 per month for their transit pass.
As of the first of January, the province’s small claims court will now consider up to $15,000 in unresolved financial claims—twice the limit of what used to be the court’s previous $7,500 limit. Despite further cuts to the province’s school commissions, school taxes will be going up for homeowners all over the province—including those who happen to live on the island of Montreal. And even as some might consider the government’s new fees to be more of a sucker punch than a pinch, everybody is going to be in for a big surprise when they open up their February Hydro bills. And even if the new fees won’t do much to add to the city’s usual dismal springtime conversation about the weather and their latest Hydro bill, everybody is going to have a lot more to complain about when they discover that Hydro-Québec is now charging 3.9 per cent more for their electricity than they did for last year’s energy.
While the jury’s still out as to how much it will cost to feed the average Canadian family, a cursory Internet search indicates that several researchers—including those working at Ontario’s Guelph University—believe they will be paying anywhere from 2.5 to three per cent more for the week’s groceries than they did for the same food last year.
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