Quebec finance minister grilled over $500 in payments to 6.4 million taxpayers

The opposition described the payment, announced in this week’s budget, as “partisan”, “electoral” and “a giveaway”.

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Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard found himself bombarded with questions from the opposition benches on Friday as he sought to justify the headline item in Tuesday’s provincial budget: a $500 payment at 6.4 millions of Quebec taxpayers to offset the rise in inflation.

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Girard spent two hours parrying opposition questions just three days after the measure was announced as part of the government’s final budget unveiling ahead of the October general election.

News that the government intends to send $500 to taxpayers with annual incomes below $100,000 has been dismissed by opposition parties as ‘partisan’, ‘electioneer’ and a handed ‘gift’ to voters just months before the elections.

Since Tuesday, Girard has repeatedly denied any connection between the election and money and reiterated that the move was intended to allow Quebecers to deal with an inflation rate that, after hovering at 3% for 30 years , suddenly jumped to 4.7%.

He explained that such a sudden and large increase in the cost of living has prompted the government to act quickly, including the aid of $500 in the 2021 tax return to allow people to maintain their purchasing power. short term.

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Girard said the money was included in the budget because “it’s now that Quebeckers are being hit” by rising inflation.

But the opposition was not impressed by Girard’s explanations. Liberal MP and former finance minister Carlos Leitao told reporters that Tuesday’s budget was a short-sighted exercise based on a one-time, one-time payment, when recurring financial assistance was needed for Quebecers who really need it. need.

Québec solidaire (QS) said the Legault government should have doubled the solidarity tax credit for two months to better fight inflation and protect the wallets of low-income Quebecers.

QS MP Ruba Ghazal also criticized the finance minister for not having used the budget to multiply measures to reduce social inequalities, whether in the form of a freeze on rent increases and electricity tariffs or a program to help first-time buyers.

Leitao said the housing boom is making “the dream of being able to own a home more and more remote…for a new generation.”

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