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Investing in our priorities

Québec City, Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - "For the second year, despite difficult budget conditions, we are keeping our commitment to invest in the priorities of Quebecers by allocating the bulk of available financial resources for health and education," said Conseil du trésorChair and Minister responsible for Government Administration Monique Jérôme-Forget today while tabling the 2004-2005 Expenditure Budget. "True to our word, we are refocusing the government on the priorities of the people of Québec," she added.

One Billion More for Health and Social Services

The budget envelope for the health and social services sector is increased by $1 billion, or 5.1%, from $19.1 billion in 2003-2004 to $20.1 billion in 2004-2005. "Thus the government is allocating 72% of the increase in program spending next year for the improvement of healthcare services," added Mrs. Jérôme-Forget.

"This growth in the health budget will be enough to cover the entire increase in the cost of services, boost the budget envelopes of healthcare establishments, and implement new initiatives to meet patients’ needs," said the Minister. She added that her colleague, the Minister of Health and Social Services, would provide more details about these measures in the weeks ahead.


The budget envelope for the Ministère de l’Éducation is 2.7% higher in 2004-2005. "Hence funding for education will amount to $11.8 billion in 2004-2005, an increase of $309 million," explained the Conseil du trésor Chair. This increase represents 23% of the total growth in program spending.

In addition to paying for the rising cost of services, these additional appropriations will enable the Minister of Education to implement special measures primarily aimed at reducing the school dropout rate, such as the Homework Assistance program and establishment of the Wellness-oriented School program.

Culture and Communications

The Minister also announced a 3.8% increase in the budget for the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, thereby confirming the government’s support for culture and its development. This raises the department’s budget to $531 million, or 1.1% of the expenditure budget.

The Chair of the Conseil du trésor noted that this amount is in addition to the substantial tax relief amounting to over $80 million that the Québec government provides annually for film and television productions, and which contributes to Québec’s tremendous success in that field.

Other Portfolios

There will be additional funding in 2004-2005 to implement a number of new initiatives. Thus the budget of the Ministère des Affaires municipales, du Sport et du Loisir is increased by $15 million to provide better conditions for dealing with the housing crisis.

The Conseil exécutif budget is increased by $10 million to finance the RegionalYouth Investment Fund. An amount of $15 million has also been allocated for the development and introduction of e-government by the Secrétariatdu Conseil du trésor. In addition to this amount, it will receive a $21 million capital expenditure budget.

Finally, some departments will receive budget increases due to special factors, such as the sharp rise in debt service in the Ministère des Transports budget, and the ongoing implementation of agreements with First Nations in the case of the Ministère du Conseil exécutif.

Doing Things Differently

The Conseil du trésor pointed out that a number of departments will have to deal with budget cutbacks. Yet she stressed the fact that the actions planned in the effort to modernize the government will enable the services they provide to be maintained, without narrowing their basic mission, and without any downsizing of regular staff other than the reduction resulting from natural departures.

"The measures that will be put forward in the wide-ranging effort to modernize government will help offset the budget cutbacks facing several departments. By doing things differently, we will achieve substantial savings which will bring an improvement in the services provided for the public," said Mrs. Jérôme-Forget.

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