Quebec votes this October 3 to decide who leads the province for the next four years. Opinion polls currently show the front runner as the incumbent Coalition Avenir Québec, which has been in power since 2018 when it claimed victory over provincial Liberals.
Given the size of the Quebec economy and the importance of its digital sector to the rest of Canada, ICTC combed through each of the candidate party platforms and promises to see where they stand on key issues to Canada’s digital economy, specifically, prosperity and growth; workforce talent and diversity, equity, and inclusion; and sustainability.
Looking to build on the success of its previous term, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)’s has outlined plans to protect and advance French language and culture, prioritize environmental protection, and invest in the digital economy and clean energy.
Talent and Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI)
The CAQ plans to increase how much control Quebec has over its immigration and reduce the annual immigration threshold from 70,000 to 50,000, with 80% being French-speakers. The CAQ would require all newcomers to pass a language and values test, and the province would accept fewer refugees and fewer immigrants through the family reunification program. Finally, the CAQ plans to invest $348 million in vocational training to address labour shortages and graduate 30,000 more people than expected by 2026 in key sectors, such as construction.
Prosperity and Growth
In terms of prosperity and growth, the CAQ platform plans to address the rising cost-of-living by providing tax cuts to the middle class and one-time payments to low-income residents and low-income seniors. Additionally, the party has promised a 3% cap on the price of public services for the next four years. As a means to support the local economy, the party is proposing changes to procurement rules, including a buy-local campaign aimed at the public. It has also promised to address challenging economic conditions in Quebec’s small towns.
The CAQ has also signaled a commitment to improving the province’s digital infrastructure by investing in access to high-speed internet and digitizing government services across the province. The CAQ platform outlines two innovation zones in Sherbrooke and Bromont, which will support advancements in quantum computing, manufacturing, and improve interdisciplinary research development.
In line with 2030 federal targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels, the CAQ plans to reduce emissions by 37.5% below 1990 levels, and aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The CAQ plans to achieve emissions reduction targets by banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and developing new hydroelectric projects. Legault states that new hydroelectric projects could also be an avenue for building stronger ties with remote Indigenous communities.
Legault vision for Quebec includes becoming the green battery hub of North America by exporting its hydroelectricity. In addition to the hydroelectricity export contracts already concluded, including Quebec’s important contract with New York, the CAQ government will continue to promote the benefits of its clean energy to neighbouring regions. The CAQ also plans to further develop the production of renewable energies, with a particular focus on wind energy.
Additionally, CAQ plans to commit $650 million to waste water management, the protection of lakes and rivers, and plans to make natural areas more accessible. CAQ also promotes sustainable food systems by providing financial support to farmers who pursue sustainable agriculture initiatives and by educating young people on nutrition, gardening, and composting. The exact methods CAQ will employ to carry out these environmental policies are not detailed in their platform.
Québec solidaire (QS) has chosen to select two leaders, acting as co-spokespeople. The co-spokespeople model is representative of the QS’s strong focus on social issues in their 2022 election platform. The party has designed its platform around supporting labour and newcomers, taxing the wealthiest, and a strong focus on environmental policy.
Talent and DEI
In their 20-point election platform, the party made commitments to work with Indigenous communities and adhere to the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Québec solidaire’s position on immigration includes recognizing foreign credentials and improving immigrant integration into the province’s labour market.
The party also plans to develop targeted training for in-demand skills to fill the labour and talent gaps in key industries. If elected, the QS will recognize the rights of remote workers and digital workers under the Act Respecting Labour Standards. To ensure digital services and tools are accessible, the party will establish digital literacy and digital manufacturing workshops.
Prosperity and Growth
The QS’s platform aims to address economic issues in the province by focusing on social and educational support for low-income Quebec residents. To fund these programs, the party plans to revisit the tax code, creating new brackets for high-income individuals and change the way in which capital gains are taxed. Other policies include reducing municipal dependency on property tax and making changes to the filing system to fight tax evasion. The QS aims to support regional economies through its environmental commitments by investing in industries that support green technologies as well as changing procurement rules to promote locally sourced consumption.
The party says it will renegotiate the free trade treaties that Canada negotiated on Quebec’s behalf and to enter into international trade cooperation arrangements that honour individual and collective rights. Specifically, the focus of the negotiations would be on rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as social and environmental justice. If elected, the party aims to use this policy to curtail Global North-South disparities, re-localize the economy, and become less dependent on imports[JR1] [MB2] . Additional platform promises that could have a significant impact on Quebecers are the party’s aspirations to nationalize and decentralize all renewable energy providers to make energy production fully public in Quebec, and their plan to ban any new oil and gas pipelines in Quebec.
The party wants to promote competition within the telecommunications industry and has proposed transferring regulatory authority from the federal government to the provincial government. The party believes such a change could promote fair and equitable access to digital services across the province, especially in rural areas. The QS also proposes an increased focus on digital content, specifically to promote and protect the French language and its unique culture.
The party’s Vison 2030 Climate Plan was developed in collaboration with eight climate scientists, two of whom have contributed to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports. Emissions reductions targets proposed by the QS surpass those proposed by any other running party, with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. To achieve these ambitious targets, the QS would implement new regulations, which would include an additional 15% tax on SUVs and heavy polluting vehicles, and a disincentive tax on excess greenhouse gas emissions beginning at $100 per tonne. The QS will also implement new laws against food waste and prohibit the transport of hydrocarbons via oil and gas pipelines across the province. Their climate plan is expected to require “$7 billion in operating costs and $29 billion in capital expenditures during the first mandate.”
The Quebec Liberal Party (QLP)’s platform focuses on green economy investment by way of their ÉCO project. The project would work toward closing the talent and skills gap by reducing the backlog of immigrants and will prioritize upskilling the current workforce to fill labour market shortages.
Talent and DEI
The QLP platform echoes a general concern about workforce labour shortages. To fill vacancies, the party plans to develop a training RRSP incentive that companies can use to ensure efficient training programs are in place, including upskilling programs to help workers adopt to new technologies. Other platform policies include reducing the gender wage gap, reducing the cost of childcare to $8.70-a-day, and recognizing foreign or interprovincial accreditation. The party also suggests taking over the federal temporary foreign worker program to accelerate the immigration process and offering newcomers French-language training programs. The QLP have also committed to upholding the Joyce’s Principle following consultations with Indigenous communities and have acknowledged systemic racism as a factor when evaluating Indigenous health outcomes.
Prosperity and Growth
Many of the QLP’s tax policies are designed to address increases in the cost of living: for example, providing new tax credits to individuals and implementing new taxes to disincentivize behaviours that may be driving up the cost-of-living. The party plans to revise the tax system to make it more friendly for SMEs and better support local research and development. The QLP also plans to change the criteria that is used to award government funding so that it doesn’t just rely on raw job creation numbers, but also includes metrics related to sustainability and value-added production.
The QLP expects that foreign investment will be needed to support its ÉCO project, which focuses on green hydrogen development and the adoption of clean technologies in existing sectors. The party aims to leverage the province’s advantage in hydroelectricity, positioning itself as a major supplier of all types of renewable energy by 2035. In order to support the expansion of Quebec’s hydroelectricity potential, the QLP would establish a new provincially owned corporation, Hydrogène Québec, which will be responsible for coordinating the industry’s development. The QLP plans to support research and development of green technologies and will invest in vocational training in post-secondary institutions geared to new green energy developments.
The party has also suggested it will add a 3% tax on tech firms whose revenues exceed $1 billion globally and that operate, but do not declare revenues, in the province. Parallel with this initiative will be the development of a fund to support local creators.
The QLP ÉCO project will dedicate $100 billion of public and private investments into balancing ecological stewardship and economic prosperity. Notable action items include prioritizing clean energy from green hydrogen and biofuels, reducing energy waste by 10%, modernizing energy building codes, and establishing home retrofit programs. The ÉCO project also plans to “increase water royalties by as much as six-fold” for commercial use (excluding agriculture, engineering, and residential usage). Revenue will be reinvested into wastewater management and freshwater ecosystem protection. In an effort to make Quebec net-zero by 2050, the QLP also aims to reduce emissions by 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, surpassing federal targets (which set the base year as 2005).
The Parti Québécois (PQ) has yet to release a comprehensive platform, identifying only a few key topics the party believes are important to voters. The party has chosen to focus on its core value—sovereignty from Canada and an independent French state—proposing a handful of policies that focus on strengthening the province’s French-language programs and requirements. Second to cultural policies, the PQ has a strong focus offsetting increases in the cost-of-living and environmental policies.
Talent and DEI
The Parti Québécois is committed to 100% Francophone economic immigration and suggests decreasing the total immigration threshold from 70,000 to 35,000. The PQ also noted, if elected, businesses will not be able require English proficiency in their job postings.
The party promises to revise the Pay Equity Act to ensure women and men receive the same salary for the same work. The party also will increase supports for caregivers and plans to contribute $460 million annually to community services that support women.
Prosperity and Growth
The PQ has proposed a set of temporary assistance measures to help offset the rising cost-of-living for residents of Quebec making under $80,000, in addition to doubling the existing solidarity credit (a refundable tax credit for low- and middle-income families). Budgetary surpluses brought on by rising inflation will be used to cover the cost of the proposed financial assistance. The PQs have also taken a strong position against tax cuts, citing chronic underfunding of public services. The party has argued that a lack of competition in several economic sectors is contributing to rising cost-of-living in the province but has not provided solutions or an official platform to outline how it plans to address the issue.
The party would hold a referendum in its first mandate, presenting details of how a sovereign Quebec would function in the context of money, military operations, borders, and pension plans. It would take over more federal power and use state finances to prepare for independence. If elected, the party would have its finance minister assess the revenues of an independent Quebec and produce a budget for the first year of independence. It would name a foreign affairs minister and seek recognition of an independent Quebec. Quebec would aim to develop multiple free trade agreements, fully respecting Quebec’s cultural and linguistic diversity, and would communicate only in French with international organizations. PQ’s platforms aim to strengthen Quebec’s relations with French-speaking states to support the relocation and maintenance of major head offices in Quebec.
The absence of an official platform leaves little understanding of how the PQ will approach the digitalization of Quebec’s industries or deal with issues facing the digital economy.
The PQ has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 2010 levels, by 2030. The party also plans to incentivize climate positive behaviours by increasing tax credits for Quebecers who purchase electric vehicles. To reduce pollution and support sustainable agriculture, the PQ plans to ban harmful pesticides and herbicides. The PQ states the importance of leveraging clean technologies in the journey to net-zero and plans to invest in clean technology research and development. According to the party’s leader, the party’s climate plan resembles that of Québec solidaire but takes a gentler approach to implementation. While the PQ has identified many environmental policies, implementation processes are unclear.
The Conservative Party of Quebec (CPQ)’ platform outlines plans to support employment opportunities in natural resource industries and reduce taxes. Notably, the CPQ’s platform focuses less on the environment or the green economy than that of the other parties.
Talent and DEI
The CPQ’s platform includes plans to revive Quebec’s natural resource economy, including a commitment to relaunching the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project. The party plans to involve key stakeholders in the planning and implementation of the LNG Project by putting an agreement in place with Indigenous rights holders. That said, it is unclear what this agreement would prioritize and which Indigenous communities would be involved.
Prosperity and Growth
The CPQ’s main focus is on reducing environmental red tape and investing in developmental infrastructure of major mining and energy projects. With Quebec’s LNG Project, the CPQ plans to make Quebec self-sufficient in energy and provide European allies with access to natural gas. An additional focus will also be on supporting the development of Hydro-Québec and scaling operations to sell surplus energy to the electrical markets of the United States and Ontario.
The CPQ’s platform outlines many different ways it plans to change tax policy in the province, including reducing income tax, suspending provincial gas taxes, and changing provincial payroll taxes for businesses. However, outside of an across-the-board comprehensive reduction in taxes, the platform does not provide much direction for how a CPQ government would support industry development in Quebec. One exception to this strategy is the implied focus on continuing to develop Quebec’s natural resource sectors.
The CPQ plans to invest in digitizing the healthcare system to reduce administrative inefficiencies in Quebec. The program would use Alberta’s Netcare Portal (ANP) to allow better communication across services in the healthcare industry. The digitization effort will include a strong focus on securely and confidentially storing patient data.
The CPQ has no clear emissions reduction targets and criticizes other parties for their “unreasonable” climate targets. CPQ states that people will continue to rely on fossil fuels and emphasizes the need to extract fossil fuels accessible in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. The CPQ is committed to strengthening the natural resource sectors because of their historical contribution to prosperity in Canada. The CPQ is also committed to phasing out subsidies for biofuels and electric vehicles. Furthermore, the party commits to reducing and, eventually, abolishing carbon taxes, using any funds obtained from carbon taxes to mitigate climate change if “increasing temperatures justify” doing so.
This brief is part of ICTC’s policy updates series. ICTC provides timely updates on policy and political developments in Canada, including federal, provincial, and territorial elections campaigns, fall economic updates and annual budgets, and other major updates to policy and programs. Written by Allison Clark, Mansharn Toor, Justin Racliffe, and Todd Legere, with generous support from Mairead Matthews and the ICTC Digital Think Tank Team.