Quebec's Minister of Finance, Carlos Leitão, presented the 2015-16 budget on March 26th. For the Chantier de l'économie sociale, a Canadian CED Network partner, the budget announced some very interesting measures for the development of the social economy even though some others cause concern.
The Chantier de l'économie sociale welcomes the budget announcements related to the government’s future action plan for the social economy. Many measures correspond well to the needs expressed by social economy stakeholders during preliminary discussions and pave the way for the accelerated development of collective enterprises over the coming years.
"The social economy measures are an important advancement that make the intentions of the Loi sur l'économie sociale adopted in November 2013 more concrete," declared Nancy Neamtan, the Chantier’s CEO. "The action plan’s highlights discussed for many months are being confirmed in the budget presented today. Even though they are relatively small amounts, the social economy stakeholders will continue, as they have always done, to accomplish great things based on multiple partnerships and a remarkable capacity for innovation. It is a grassroots movement at the heart of the economy that is still full of surprises!”
Some of the most significant positive measures include:
- The $20M addition to the Programme d’infrastructure en entrepreneuriat collectif (PIEC) [Collective entrepreneurship infrastructure program];
- The $10M recapitalization of Réseau d’investissement social du Québec (RISQ);
- A $30M budget to relaunch Investissement Quebec’s program to stimulate the capitalization of social economy enterprises;
- $10M over five years for an action plan for seniors and persons in loss of autonomy as well as the renewal of the Financial Assistance Program for Domestic Help Services (PEFSAD);
- $3.5M over five years to support innovation and the development of markets, and the confirmation of funding for five years of the liaison and transfer organization, Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS);
- A $1M fund over five years to support workers in their process to create worker cooperatives in the context of business reactivation;
- $29M over five years for various grassroots organizations that work to support the development of social economy enterprises, especially in rural and remote regions.
Other encouraging signs of the impacts of the social economy framework law are apparent with the enhanced eligibility for collective enterprises to some government programs, which also reveals progress in the recognition of the contribution of the social economy to Quebec’s development. One example, among others, is a program for the use of digital technology by social economy enterprises.
However, the major cuts in the AccèsLogis program are a significant disappointment for the Chantier. This is added to other austerity measures already announced and that were confirmed in this budget. These measures especially affect regional and local development because of the impact of the fiscal pact with municipalities, education, some employment measures and educational services for early childhood which will have negative impacts on local communities across Québec.
Furthermore, despite the Liberal Party’s election commitment, the new fiscal measure making it easier to transfer businesses only targets family members and not workers. The Chantier remains convinced that this measure must be made available to workers and vividly hopes that it is only a matter of time.
According to the President of the Chantier de l’économie sociale, Patrick Duguay, "It is somewhat bittersweet progress. The Ministère de l’Économie, l’Innovation et l'Exportation seems to have well understood the current and potential contribution of the social economy to the development of Quebec. We are delighted. Unfortunately, this recognition is not shared widely by all government departments. The 50% cut in the AccèsLogis program, the impacts of the fiscal pact with the municipalities on local and regional development and the non-recognition of the advantages of the model of daycare centres shows us the extent of the work left to be done to ensure the full recognition of the contribution of collective enterprises to the sustainable socio-economic development of all of Quebec’s regions."
Source: Chantier de l’économie sociale
The Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité has also pointed out the Quebec government’s support for the creation of jobs in cooperatives and mutual benefit companies that will be a large portion of the jobs created as part of the government’s action plan for the social economy.
Consult: 100 millions pour soutenir le développement de l'entrepreneuriat collectif (in French)