This week marks the return of our Quebec elected officials to the National Assembly and it is obvious that the government will have its work cut out to curb the many social and economic challenges we face. Faced with this task, which will require audacity and courage, we wish to do useful work here and clearly present the expectations of economic circles in the regions of Quebec.
Unsurprisingly, the shortage of housing and the scarcity of labor will be the two cardinal issues that the government will have to tackle head-on quickly, if it wishes to reverse the alarming trends that have emerged in recent years.
Let us undertake the perilous exercise of putting these two issues aside to highlight the other issues that concern the business base in Quebec. As a network of chambers of commerce present on the ground and by virtue of our permanent tours to the four corners of Quebec, we believe that it is imperative that the following themes be on the agenda when Parliament returns:
- territory Development ;
- energy strategy;
- approval of innovation zones;
- forestry industry;
- regional air transport;
- regional media crisis.
The government must have the regions in its sights. Whether by taking concrete actions to revitalize our city centers and our village hearts, through, among other things, its new National Policy on Architecture and Regional Planning, or by promoting local purchasing or support for the next generation of entrepreneurs, our regions need this support more than ever.
In addition, inflationary pressures are creating unparalleled pressure on our SMEs, which must be combined with a significant increase in interest rates and their production costs in several sectors of activity. Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive in Quebec through measures promoting the emergence of new projects must become a healthy obsession for our decision-makers.
The government has the opportunity to demonstrate its seriousness in this matter by adjusting a measure that would help promote takeover in Quebec. For example, by removing the requirement for an immediate transfer of the majority of shares with voting rights, because this rule is an irritant for many family transferors and transferors who are not always financially ready to proceed in one go. blow to such a significant transfer of assets.
In terms of energy, the question of regional particularities takes on its full meaning here. Each of our regions faces the double challenge of the end of electricity surpluses and the increased needs generated by economic development and the decarbonization of the economy in its own way. Hydro-Québec’s new ambitious action plan was well received, but this is also why the chambers of commerce will closely follow the modernization of energy laws, including that of the Régie de l’énergie, announced by the minister Peter Fitzgibbon. The framework must be more flexible, more effective and more aligned with the decarbonization objective.
We have been allies of the concept of innovation zones from the beginning. On the other hand, it would be interesting to accelerate the establishment of new innovation zones, notably on the South Shore of Montreal in aerospace, or in the agri-food sector in Saint-Hyacinthe, in the mining sector in Rouyn-Noranda or even for the Blue Zone of Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie, to name just a few. Expectations across Quebec are high for these ambitious projects.
Our resource regions also need to feel that their development is a priority on Parliament Hill. Several of them having been marked by devastating forest fires, the consultations on the future of the Quebec forest which will take place this winter will finally allow us to re-evaluate our methods regarding the national management of this resource essential to the economic development of Quebec .
Forest management practices must be revised in order to give more predictability to the industry and, given the particularities specific to each region, we hope that the government will look into decentralizing decision-making.
In regional air transport, the government has the responsibility to bring more flexibility to the Regional Air Access Program (PAAR) and to make this possibility better known to different communities, and to Quebecers in our largest cities, who would like to visit our remote regions.
Finally, to be able to relay the progress of all these issues and the impacts in our regions, we need healthy media. While several of them have been forced to substantially cut their workforce throughout the regions of Quebec, we expect the Legault government to redouble its efforts to support them. Media coverage of local issues and, ultimately, our ability to get them to the ears of our elected officials depend on it.
Welcome back to our elected officials and count on us to follow your actions and reactions with interest!