Economic policy

Legault presents five components of post-pandemic economic policy

The Prime Minister says “Buy Quebec”, exports, innovation, labor shortages and the green economy are covered by the policy.

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Premier Francois Legault unveiled a new post-pandemic economic policy for Quebec on Friday, which covers “Buy Quebec,” exports, innovation, labor shortages and the green economy.

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Presenting the plan at a press conference in Shawinigan, Legault promised that many announcements will follow in the coming months as part of the policy.

“Creating wealth is not an end in itself,” he said. “But it gives us the means to achieve our ambitions. If we want to be able to invest in the environment, in our social programs, that takes resources.”

He added that he is convinced that his economic vision will enable Quebec to close the gap with Ontario in terms of gross domestic product per capita. The GDP of the latter is 13% higher than that of Quebec, he said.

Legault said his government’s “mini budget,” which will be tabled Nov. 25, will give a taste of the announcements to come. He nevertheless presented certain elements which he said would be retained. These include controlled certification to identify products made in Quebec and encourage Quebec consumers to buy local.

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To set an example, Legault also announced that his government will introduce legislation to ensure that provincial departments and businesses buy more from Quebec suppliers.

“The government is the biggest client in Quebec,” he says. “My goal is for there to be more Quebec content.”

Legault noted, however, that international contractual rules will continue to be respected.

The government also intends to help Quebec companies in their exports, indicated the Premier. Quebec’s delegations abroad have already made it a priority to find clients in the United States, Europe and Asia, he specified.

In addition, to promote the commercialization and export of products, Mr. Legault said he would like to create innovation zones where colleges and universities would be more in contact with entrepreneurs. Due to the labor shortage, companies also need to accelerate their robotization and digitalization, he said.

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Labor Minister Jean Boulet will soon table a plan to address the staff shortage, Legault said. Quebec wants to support people who will have to requalify in new sectors, he said.

Legault said nearly 200,000 jobs need to be filled in the province. Priority will be given to essential services and “future areas” that will offer “value-added” wages, such as the green economy, he said.

Immigration could be “part of the solution” to fill the labor shortage, Legault said. However, Quebec has already reached its integration capacity with the arrival of 50,000 newcomers on average per year, he specified.

“If we want to continue speaking French in future generations, there is a limit to the number of immigrants who can enter,” Legault said. He added that 50% of immigrants who arrived in Quebec under previous Liberal governments did not speak French.

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Legault also said that economic growth and the fight against climate change are reconcilable objectives.

“Our vision is that we are able and we must do both,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted, for example, that Quebec stands out for its production of clean and affordable energy thanks to hydroelectricity.

“There are plenty of companies that want to come and invest in Quebec to improve their greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “These are often manufacturers who offer very high salaries.”

The government also wants to take advantage of the province’s existing expertise in transportation electrification, such as trains and buses, Legault said, adding that his government also wants to develop the hydrogen and bioenergy sectors.

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