Protest against new budget

Many show their disapproval with the 2010-2011 budget by gathering in downtown Montreal

by Chloe Nudo

On April 1 in downtown Montreal near McGill metro, around a thousand people gathered near McGill metro to show their unhappiness with the new 2010-2011 budget by Quebec’s Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, which included increases in the provincial sales tax, fuel tax, tuition fees and new health-care fees.

People showed their disappointment in the budget by holding up signs and Charest of emptying peoples’ pockets and not considering education a priority.
Miriam Ouimet, a young student from Trois-Riviere emphasized how knowledge is something one must value.

“La richesse d’un pays se trouve dans ces connaisances,” she said.

They portrayed Charest’s greediness by having a huge octopus made of bed sheets with Charest face on it and money bags at the end of all the tentacles at the protest.

There was music blaring, protest speeches using mega phones, people blowing whistles, chanting and making as much noise as possible. The majority of the people were French-speaking students from various CEGEPs and universities.

There were a number of groups there ranging from student groups to teacher organizations, some of which included, Les Jeunes Patriotes du Quebec, and the FSE. Two youth workers from L’Auberge du Coeur, an organization that helps troubled and homeless teens, spoke of the consequences of these increases in prices.

“On est tannes des hausses,” Cynthia Gauthier, one of the employees, said, explaining how people are tired of price hikes and paying extra.

Her fellow co-worker, Pierre Ouellet, explained how it was great there were people here but more should be present as these changes effect a majority of Montrealers.

“La classe moyenne et la classe haute pour defendre leurs droits,” he said.

Ouellet explained that people should be making noise and getting their opinions heard as it is them who will be going through the changes.

Bachand hopes the added revenue will help Quebec to balance its budget by 2013-14.

“We ran deficits out of necessity,” Bachand said in his budget speech reported CTV news.

The measures that are being taken with this new budget include an increase in fuel taxes by one cent a litre in next four years, an annual health-care fee of $25, up to a maximum of $200 by 2012, and the possibility of a health deductible in the future.

There will also be an undetermined increase in Quebec’s university tuition fees in 2012, which have been the lowest in the country for years, and an increase in hydroelectricity rates once the province begins balancing its budget in 2013-14.

“Nothing we expect the government to provide is free,” Bachand said in his speech.

CTV also reported that in a largely symbolic gesture, the Premier, Cabinet Ministers and members of the Legislature will all have their salaries frozen for two years.

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