Briefing book for the Quebec Lieutenant - 2021
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Introduction to the Quebec Lieutenant
Your role as Quebec Lieutenant
As Quebec Lieutenant, you support the Prime Minister, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and your Cabinet colleagues on issues important to Quebec, giving Quebec’s perspective at Cabinet meetings. In this role, you serve as a key intermediary between the Government of Canada and various Quebec stakeholders and are responsible for echoing Quebecers’ voices to ensure that federal policies and programs are representative of Quebec’s unique and distinct reality. You are also expected to represent the federal government in Quebec, for example, when making funding announcements or signing bilateral agreements, and to promote and defend the Government of Canada’s directions.
An important aspect of your role is working with your federal colleagues to assess the implications of new programs and policies, and to provide leadership on policies and programs with a significant Quebec dimension. In your role, you will have occasion to interact with a number of Quebec stakeholders, including provincial ministers, mayors and municipal councillors, representatives from the private and non-profit sectors, and Indigenous leaders, to obtain their feedback on the challenges and opportunities facing Quebec.
You also have other roles and responsibilities more generally associated with Canada’s system of responsible parliamentary government, including your role on Cabinet committees and the ministerial coordination table on federal-provincial-territorial issues.
Role of the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat
In carrying out your responsibilities, you receive non-partisan support from the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and from the Privy Council Office’s Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat team. The Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat provides you, as well as the Prime Minister, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Special Representative for the Prairies, with strategic advice and support for issues related to federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) relations. The Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat also provides advice on collaborating with municipalities, in particular in light of their growing economic and demographic importance and of the front-line service delivery roles assumed by this level of government. In addition, the Secretariat provides advice to advance the government’s agenda while drawing attention to federal initiatives, measures or decisions that overlap with provincial/territorial jurisdiction or that could have considerable FPT repercussions.
The Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat performs the following functions specific to Quebec:
- Support for bilateral meetings: The Secretariat offers you advice and support in preparation for your bilateral meetings and interactions with your Quebec counterparts and other stakeholders in Quebec (e.g., regional tours).
- Support for bilateral and regional issues: The Secretariat offers you advice and support on bilateral and regional issues [ * ] and bilateral negotiations with Quebec [ * ]
- Policy support: The Secretariat works with colleagues from the Privy Council Office and other departments to advance priority files, foster consistency across the federal government in its approach to Quebec and ensure that considerations related to Quebec are properly taken into account in developing federal policies and programs. The team also supports you on issues related to Canadian federalism and the effective management of intergovernmental affairs. The Secretariat also works with its Quebec government counterparts to advance common goals.
- Support for Cabinet meetings: The Secretariat provides you with information and advice to support you in your participation in various Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings.
Profile of Quebec
- Premier: François Legault, Coalition Avenir Québec (majority government)
- Sonia LeBel is Minister Responsible for Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophonie
- Leader of the Official Opposition: Dominique Anglade, Quebec Liberal Party
- Last election: October 1, 2018
- Next election: October 3, 2022
Socio-economic and budgetary indicators:
- Population (2021): 8.6 million (22.6 percent of the total population)
- GDP growth forecast (2021-22): 6.5 percent
- Unemployment rate (September 2021): 6.5 percent
- Budget deficit (2021-22): -$3.8 billion (0.7 percent of GDP)
- Net debt-to-GDP ratio (2021-22): 45.5 percent
- Major federal transfers (2021-22): $26.3 billion (21.5 percent of total projected provincial revenues)
Following a decline of almost 5.2% in 2020, Quebec expects real GDP to grow by 6.5% in 2021. Real GDP growth will slow to 1.5% in 2024 and 2025. The recovery of the labour market will be supported by the pace of vaccinations and the easing of public health measures. The unemployment rate is expected to decline from an average of 8.9% in 2020 to 6.3% in 2021, but to remain above its pre-pandemic level throughout the forecast horizon.
Quebec forecasts a deficit of $3.8 billion or 0.7% of GDP in 2020-21 (before transfers to the Generations Fund and the use of its stabilization reserve under the province’s balanced budget legislation). The province’s net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to peak at 45.5 percent of GDP in 2021-22, before gradually declining to 43.4% by 2025-26.
[ * ] Over the past few months, the governments of Quebec and Canada have concluded major bilateral agreements on high-speed Internet, childcare, temporary foreign workers, affordable housing, virtual care and investments in the aerospace sector.
On October 19, 2021, Premier Legault presented his government’s priorities for the next parliamentary year: the economy, education, child care, governance and health. He reiterated the Quebec government’s demand for an increase in federal transfer payments for health, without conditions. He also stated that Quebec must have more powers over immigration to ensure that Quebec’s capacity for integrating immigrants is respected, and to protect the French language. He announced that Quebec will permanently ban hydrocarbon extraction within its territory and create a world-leading electric transportation hub, for battery and green hydrogen production. Premier Legault also stated that Quebec will soon be introducing a plan to add 100,000 skilled workers in the construction, information technology and engineering sectors. Mr. Legault noted that Quebecers have a duty to fight racism, with special attention being paid to Indigenous communities. The government also reintroduced Bill 96, affirming French as the official and common language of Quebec.
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- Demands addressed to leaders of the federal political parties: On August 26, 2021, Premier Legault sent a letter to federal party leaders asking them to commit to meeting Quebec’s priority demands, namely, health, immigration, infrastructure, housing, and the fight against climate change. [ * ]
The following section gives an overview of the key issues between Canada and Quebec today. An updated list of key issues [ * ] on a weekly basis.
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