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Quebec budget: some excellent measures for addressing labour shortage

Quebec Finance Minister Éric Girard has tabled his first budget. This is a decidedly pro-development budget for the province’s economy, striking a balance between economic development investment, tax relief for individuals and businesses and sound management of public finances. The budget also contains some great measures to help you cope with the labour shortage challenge.

Measures for keeping experienced workers in the labour market

The budget features two especially interesting measures to encourage workers aged 60 and above to keep working. The first provides for an increase in non-taxable income for these workers from $18,000 to $28,000. Over five years, this will put more than half a billion dollars in their pockets and should encourage a good number of older workers to stay in the labour market a while longer!
The second measure is a refundable income tax credit on your payroll taxes for these workers. This is a measure specifically for SMEs that will let you save approximately $340 million over five years. For instance, if you hire a worker 65 or older, you can save up to $1,875 / year and, in the case of a worker 60 to 64, up to $1,250. This is precisely one of the demands that CFIB presented to Minister Girard on your behalf. And now 34,000 employers and 112,000 experienced workers will reap the benefits. 

Some interesting support measures for the regions and exports 

The budget also provides other useful measures, particularly for regional development. These include: 

  • Regional infrastructure investment ($395 million over five years)
    • Includes high-speed internet deployment (a broader $400 million plan over seven years) 
  • Financial assistance to the bio-food sector ($285 million over five years)
    • Includes promotion of buying local ($10 million over five years)
  • Support for developing natural gas supply ($73 million over three years)   
  • Promotion of local products in the area of food/farm tourism ($4 million over five years).

In addition, the budget provides export support investments, including: 

  • Enrichment of the ESSOR Program ($36 million in future dollars), which offers support to the manufacturing sector for the purchase of productivity-enhancing equipment 
  • Enrichment of the Export Program ($35 million over five years) to provide SMEs with export development support services. 

Thanks to these enhancements, you will have access to experts who can steer you towards new markets and help you make your way through the various stages of the export process.

Sound public finances and balanced budgets

And there is more good news still: the government’s sound financial management remains on course thanks to a balanced or surplus budget over the next few years. Business owners like you know today’s deficits are tomorrow’s taxes, so this cautious approach is welcome indeed!

Your taxes – neither up nor down

We were hoping that all small businesses would regain access to the reduced corporate income tax rate; unfortunately, the government did not move forward with this measure. But you can count on CFIB to continue our efforts to make sure that the smallest businesses will once again be able to benefit from the SME tax rate. 

We were also hoping for fast-tracking of the income/payroll tax reductions announced in previous budgets, but this is not in the cards at the moment. Even so, the fact that the government is maintaining these reductions is positive news.

March 21, 2019