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Modernizing government : an action plan for the future

Québec City, Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - While tabling the 2004-2005 Expenditure Budget, the Chair of the Conseil du trésor and Minister responsible for Government Administration, Mrs. Monique Jérôme-Forget announced that in a few weeks she would release the government’s 2004-2007 action plan for public spending.

"This action plan will follow up on the strategic directions described in our Shine Among the Best action program for managing public spending. It will revolve around four main objectives, namely : better management of our human resources, a structural reassessment, a program review, and improvements to how things are done," explained Mrs. Jérôme-Forget.

Continue Modernizing Government

The Chair of the Conseil du trésor said the action plan will be based on the modernization effort that got underway last summer following its announcement in the Premier’s inaugural speech. She underscored the diligence of her colleagues in doing the work assigned to them by the Premier and the extent of the actions taken in the first year of the government’s term. As examples, the Minister pointed to modernizing the mandates of government corporations and regional governance, and health and social services bills tabled in the National Assembly, two of which were adopted last December.

Better Management of Human Resources

The Minister emphasized that her action plan will make human resource management a very high priority : "From 1997-1998 to date, the size of the public service has risen from 63,700 to 75,800 persons. In this context, last February we sent a clear signal of prudence by announcing a temporary freeze on hiring until April 30, 2004, with the exception of personnel considered essential for certain operations."

"Control of public spending means curbing too rapid growth in staff and regaining control over payroll trends. The challenge lies in gradually reducing the size of the overall workforce while ensuring that it is renewed, and that this renewal is representative in relation to the entire public service. In this regard, the numerous retirements expected over the next five years represent a unique opportunity that we should take advantage of," said the Chair of the Conseil du trésor. She added that the action plan to be released in a few weeks will cover the procedures that will govern the hiring of new employees in 2004-2005.

Reviewing Investment Strategy to Curb Debt

The Chair of the Conseil du trésor also announced new directions and the introduction of new ways of doing things in the area of investments. These measures are essential to ease the pressure on public spending and curb the rise in public debt stemming from too sharp of a rise in capital expenditures in recent years.

Thus in 2004-2005 the new fixed assets financed exclusively by the Québec government will be limited to the cultural sector and research infrastructures. The government will also prioritize work involving the maintenance of assets and the completion of projects already underway, especially in the areas of health and road infrastructures.

"We have also decided to introduce new ways of doing things by favouring projects carried out through partnerships with the private sector. Thus, for new fixed assets, departments and agencies will have to favour the option of a public-private business partnership. This change in how things are done will help reduce the government’s share in financing investments and limit our debt," explained the Minister.

Developing e-Government to Improve Services

"The action plan I will table will explain the measures adopted by the government to ensure the development of e-government. Projects are already underway at departments and agencies and the services will gradually become available to individuals and businesses during the 2004-2005 fiscal year. This includes the Québec change-of-address service, the youth portal, and the service portal for enterprises designed to simplify and integrate information and services," said the Chair of the Conseil du trésor, who was given responsibility for this major project by the Premier.

"In moving towards online government, we want to provide better access to improved, integrated, citizen-focused services anytime, anywhere. We expect to do this quickly and by making sure we provide sustainable services," said Mrs. Jérôme-Forget.

Institute a New Culture that Fosters Rethinking

"The first phase of modernizing the government enabled us to begin examining how we do things. This review will continue and intensify in 2004-2005 with the action plan I will release. We must institute, within the Québec government, a culture conducive to rethinking our programs and activities so that they adequately and continuously meet the needs of Quebecers," added the Chair of the Conseil du trésor.

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