Éric Duhaime calls for a cap on municipal taxes

Éric Duhaime calls for a cap on municipal taxes

Éric Duhaime ré calls for a cap on municipal taxes

Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Conservative leader Éric Duhaime during his press briefing on Friday morning

To ensure that Quebecers are not “suffocated” during this period of high inflation, the Conservative Party demanded that the government cap municipal tax increases. The party made this request to prevent certain municipalities from imposing increases that greatly exceed inflation.

“For us, it's important to give taxpayers a break,” said Conservative leader Éric Duhaime during a press briefing held Friday morning in Quebec City.

He was reacting to the increases taxes well in excess of inflation, already high at 6.7%, imposed by some municipalities in the province. Mr. Duhaime cited the example of La Macaza, in the Hautes-Laurentides, where the city council voted to increase taxes by nearly 35% in 2023.

Such an increase cannot be justified, in this case as in others, argued Mr. Duhaime.

The Conservative leader is therefore calling for government intervention to limit municipal tax increases. He wants Quebec to dig in his own backyard and introduce a bill similar to the one he introduced to limit Hydro-Quebec rates to 3%.

“We said that 6% was too much for government rates, but there, for municipal taxes, there are citizens who are listening to us today with a 35% increase. This is much more important than even if there had been a 6% increase in Hydro tariffs,” Mr. Duhaime argued during his press briefing.

“The government has the power to act and has […] a responsibility to ensure that there is fairness in taxation,” he argued.

The Minister will look into the matter

Thursday at the National Assembly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, revealed that staff from her ministry traveled to “certain municipalities” to check whether the tax increases were justified. However, it did not specify which municipalities were or how many will be subject to such verifications.

At the time, the Minister was responding to a question from Liberal MNA Virginie Dufour at the Salon Bleu, who lamented that in “Compton and Lac-Saint-Joseph, the tax bill has gone up by 12%, in Notre-Dame-du- Mont-Carmel, 15%, in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc, 17%, Rivière-Rouge, 20%, in Potton, it will go up to 28%”.

“24%, 28%, is that normal? As a citizen, I think that's a lot, admitted Minister Laforest. Now, for a municipality, are there any new services? Is there new infrastructure? Is there a new organism in the territory?

“You have to see with elected officials, because elected officials are accountable to their citizens. It is important to mention it. »

The FQM defends the municipalities


In response to Ms. Laforest's statements, the Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM) came to the defense of its members, calling on the minister to be “prudent” and recalling that municipalities “are not under the supervision of the Government of Quebec”.

“It seems to me regrettable that the minister is commenting on particular situations when the budgets have been adopted democratically, in compliance with the rules and when the municipal elected officials concerned are able to report their decisions to the citizens”, underlined the president of the FQM, Jacques Demers, in a press release published Thursday.

Mr. Demers noted that municipalities are struggling with a considerable increase in their expenses in a context of high inflation. “In my municipality, it's a 109% increase for winter maintenance, the cost per kilometer going from $4,000 to $8,800,” said the man who is also mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, a city of some 2,700 inhabitants in Estrie.

Friday, Éric Duhaime acknowledged that this phenomenon exists, but he recalled that it is impossible to pass on all the bills to the citizens.

“ There are different things the Minister can do, but in the meantime, the most important thing is to make sure taxpayers are not suffocated in these inflationary times,” he said.