A Strong and Democratic Government
Quebec is over-governed. Quebec citizens elect 78 federal MPs, 125 provincial MNAs, municipal councillors, school trustees and hundreds of board members of health institutions.
In spite of all these democratic structures, Quebec’s state apparatus is extremely centralized and leaves little manoeuvring room to various local governments. In addition to fixing the maximum school tax rate, the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports also controls educational programs, leaving school boards little autonomy. The Ministry of Health and Social Services manages its own network of establishments in a very centralized manner, also leaving little leeway for institutions and their boards. Whether in the field of health or education, the working conditions of the staff, doctors, nurses, teachers or clerks are negotiated on a provincial level with little consideration for regional needs.
Municipalities have a little more autonomy since they have their own taxing powers. However, their own revenue source represents only half of their income. They rely on the federal and provincial governments to balance the budget. The province’s role has greatly increased in Quebec during the last half century since the Quebec Government has used the weakness in municipalities’ tax base to take over municipal programs.
The Conservative Party of Quebec wishes to draw on the experience of countries such as Sweden and Germany. These countries have reformed their health and educational systems by adopting new forms of funding that promote better use of available resources and greater autonomy of local government while increasing the accessibility and quality of services offered.
Strong Local Administrations
We wish to support strong and well-funded local governments to deliver better services to Quebecers. We therefore propose a major reform in Quebec’s public administration, which revolves around these following pillars:
property taxes will be reserved to municipalities;
revenue raised through vehicle registration will be transferred to municipalities which will in turn determine the cost of vehicle registration;
grants to municipal programs will be reduced;
the provincial government will support municipal governments in their effort to better control the costs of their compensation policy;
the provincial government will take the necessary measures to ensure that the transfer of services will be completed without increasing costs to municipalities; and
the boards of health and education institutions will include a majority of people who are not employees of the institution.
Competition in Public Transportation
Municipalities wishing to offer additional public transportation services must deal with very high costs. The salaries paid to employees of municipalities with a population of 25,000 people or more is 18.6 % above the level offered to employees of the provincial public sector. When benefits are factored in, their total compensation reaches a level which is 33.6 % above that of the provincial public sector. The employees of municipal transportation Authorities enjoy compensation levels which are roughly comparable to their municipal colleagues.
The current costs of public transportation are an obstacle to its development. In certain areas, if we require public transportation commissions to increase the frequency or the number of runs, additional losses would be incurred as a result of the high compensation offered to their employees.
In addition, the monopoly enjoyed by public transportation Authorities forestalls the development of complementary or competitive services. Such private transportation services could meet particular needs, increase the services in areas less well served or enhance the number and frequency of services. Such competition could convince public transportation commissions to better manage their costs or to suspend services which are no longer required.
A Government of the Conservative Party of Quebec will favor the development of private transportation services if they are profitable, complementary or competitive. The second paragraph of section 80 of the «Loi sur les sociétés de transport en commun» will be abolished.
New Source of Revenue for Municipalities
In 2008, Quebec municipalities spent $4.3 billion for transportation and communication which represents $1.9 billion more than the expenditures of the provincial government in 2011-2012 for the same purpose. The provincial government has collected from motorists $460 million more than what was spent on Quebec road maintenance in that year. Municipalities, which are spending more than the provincial government in this area, receive only a fraction of the taxes paid by motorists. The time has come to restore the balance somewhat.
The Conservative Party of Quebec proposes to transfer to municipalities all fees collected from vehicle registration which amounted to $684 million in 2011-2012. In return, municipalities will take full responsibility for the construction and the maintenance of secondary roads
Better Performance in the Management of Municipal Services
Ten years ago, the United Kingdom adopted a mechanism called “value maximization”. The aim is to optimize the delivery of municipal services by using the most efficient suppliers. Maximizing value is a flexible approach that does not presume that municipal services must necessarily be provided by the local government if other more effective mechanisms exist. While not mandatory, competition thus remains an important management tool.
British municipal governments have the obligation to review the effectiveness of their delivery of services every five years and must : (1) consider the option of competition for services for which they are responsible ; (2) compare their performance to national indicators, (3) question their service delivery methods; and (4) consult with taxpayers about their quality standards and delivery methods.
A Government of the Conservative Party of Quebec will arrange for Quebec municipalities to adopt, with full transparency, this method of management which is likely to improve quality and cost-effectiveness of municipal services in Quebec.
Creating the Position of Parliamentary Director of Public Finance
Experience teaches us that successive governments have not always been rigorous in preparing budgets submitted to the National Assembly. It has often been the norm to underestimate the costs generated by a Bill submitted to the National Assembly for adoption. In order to improve the quality of democratic debates in Quebec, the Conservative Party of Quebec will propose the appointment of a Parliamentary Director of Public Finance. This person will be appointed for a five-year term by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.
The Parliamentary Director of Finance will have the mandate to present to Parliament an independent analysis of the financial condition of Quebec and of the Budget as well as a forecast of the Quebec economy. The Director will also prepare an analysis of the financial impact of any Bill submitted to Quebec’s National Assembly. The publication of this analysis should precede the Bill’s second reading before the National Assembly.
Reducing the Number of Members of the National Assembly
In an effort to further reduce unnecessary costs, we propose to adopt the federal electoral map for provincial elections. Taxpayers will be saving the expense associated with maintaining a separate electoral map in addition to saving the much larger sums required to fund the services of 47 members of the National Assembly and their staff, whose services will no longer be required.
Pension Plan of Members of the National Assembly
Members of the National Assembly receive generous pensions in comparison to the average Quebec worker and taxpayers pay dearly for this pension.
The pension plan for Members of the National Assembly has several advantages: the Member of the National Assembly can retire at 60 years of age although the normal retirement age is 65. He can also receive his pension even if he has not reached 60 years of age. This generosity is even more tangible in regard to pension credits, which amount to 4% per year, while the most generous private plans are limited to 2%. Therefore, after 25 years of service, the Member’s pension may reach 100% of his salary.
Taxpayers fund most of these generous benefits since MNA’s pay less than one-quarter of the cost of the plan.
The Conservative Party of Quebec will reform the system by delaying the normal retirement age to 67 years of age, limiting the pension credit to 2% per annum. The pension will not exceed 70% of the salary and Members of the National Assembly will be required to pay half the cost of their plan.
A Limit of 20 Ministers
There are currently 24 Members in the Council of Ministers, which represents 40% of all MNA’s of the party that forms the government. This is not a record since at one time the number of Ministers reached 36. We are proposing elsewhere in this Program to reduce the number of Members to 78 once we have introduced reforms that will strengthen governance and accountability of local governments.
A Conservative Government will limit to 20 the number of Ministers and junior Ministers.
Resigning Members and Defectors
A Member who voluntarily resigns should not be entitled to a severance package or a transition bonus. The Conservative Party of Quebec will abolish these payments upon a voluntary resignation.
When an elector votes in an election, he chooses as a representative not only one of his co-citizens, but also a political party. This is why many believe that there is a moral contract between the elected representative and the constituents who gave him a mandate based on a specific political agenda.
In order to restore the people’s confidence in their representatives, the Conservative Party of Quebec proposes to modify the Elections Act. The amendment will require an official elected under the banner of a given political party to resign should he decide to change political affiliation before the end of his mandate.
Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ)
A Conservative government will review the mission and relevance of SEPAQ.
Transparency in public administration
A Conservative government will support any political initiative to introduce greater transparency in public administration, and regardless of the level of government or the union.
Mechanism popular recall initiative
A Conservative government will implement a mechanism of popular initiative to force a recall election if one member has a severe failure in the exercise of its functions, has a serious attendance problems or availability to his constituents or if the member wants to change political party.
A Conservative government will promote the use of free software and software complying with the documentation standards of the public service, with the aim to reduce the state's reliance on sole suppliers, contracts and licenses private alternatives expensive reducing its ability to take advantage of a free market mechanism and a skilled workforce both internally and jeopardizing the sustainability of the information produced by the State.
Commission of the National Capital
A Conservative government will abolish the Commission of the National Capital, which is no longer necessary because Quebec City can perfectly handle the promotional and tourism component.
Department of International Relations
A Conservative government will abolish completely the Ministry of International Relations, close all Quebec delegations abroad without exception, will repatriate the delegates and their staff (with compensation) and will dispose of the leases and buildings concerned.