In his October 19th opening address for a new session of Quebec’s National Assembly, Premier François Legault made it clear that the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is looking to the future and setting the stage for re-election.
In what some are calling an unofficial kickoff off for the 2022 general election campaign, Premier Legault opened the second session of the 42nd legislature of the National Assembly with an hour and 17-minute-long speech where he outlined his government’s priorities and key commitments.
On October 7th, Premier Legault prorogued the National Assembly and announced a new legislative session was slated to begin on October 19th.
In a news release Legault said, “thanks to the efforts of all Quebecers, we can begin to plan for the post-pandemic. The past year-and-a-half has transformed us and brought forward crucial issues for Quebec. In addition to completing our commitments for 2018, we must begin now the major changes of the next few years.”
Notably, this was the first time a Quebec premier has prorogued the legislature since Jean Charest did so in February of 2011.
Ending a legislative session by prorogation terminates business and ends work on all Bills before the legislature. The government has mechanisms to bring back legislation that they consider vital at the start of the next session.
Adding to the backdrop of all of this is that Quebec’s next general election is on Oct. 3, 2022.
The key theme throughout Legault’s address was that now is the time for Quebec to project itself into the future.
What does that look like?
We highlight key commitments below:
Legault promised massive decentralization of Quebec’s health care system to regions and sub-regions.
“In the public as in the private sector, it has been shown that management works better when it’s decentralized,” he said. Those who best understand this “are the people on the ground.”
The Premier focused on reforming the health system and ending what he referred to as a dependency on private agencies in healthcare.
“We end up with exhausted employees leaving the network. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken. We’re going to need everyone to agree to change the way things are done. Everyone wants mandatory overtime to be reduced to a minimum.”
After stating that the battle against the virus is not over and that Quebecer’s must continue to exercise caution and vigilance, Legault announced that he expects that COVID health emergency measures will be lifted after children five to 11 years old are fully vaccinated, which is expected to take place early in 2022.
The Premier announced that it will create a ministry of cybersecurity and digital technology to protect the data of Quebecers.
Promising that at the end of the CAQ’s mandate in fall 2022, all regions of Quebec will have access to high-speed Internet.
Legault announced that in the coming days, the government will release a plan regarding the creation of 37,000 child-care spaces.
Legault was direct in stating that “[Quebec] already welcomes more immigrants than US, France, UK in terms of population, and that ‘we need to respect our integration capacities”
While acknowledging economic immigration is part of the solution to Quebec’s labour shortages, he said the system also needs to respect Quebec’s capacity to integrate immigrants into “the realities of a French nation in North America.”
“Quebec cannot have the same model of immigration as the rest of Canada,” he said. “The survival of French requires a different approach.”
Quebec wants to increase the graduation rate from 82% to 90% to become “the best in the world.”
Legault promised integrating more internships and tutoring as well.
The government will promote products made in Quebec as it wishes to encourage local purchasing in order to be more independent going forward.
The hope is to reduce imports of products that Quebec is able to manufacture itself.
The government would like to add 100,000 skilled workers and to address the labour shortage and wants to help people re-qualify and has as a priority to fill positions in essential services in the coming months.
Legault also mentioned looking at a way to encourage 60-69 year olds to continue working or to come back to work.
With his Throne Speech, it is clear that Legault gave us more than just a glimpse into the CAQ’s re-election platform and with political communication seemingly underway, opposition Parties are right to be preparing their responses to give Quebecer’s real alternatives for a new vision of a provice that can thrive in the post-pandemic world that we all hope to see.
Avenue Strategic Communications will be watching to give you a play by play of the road to election and beyond.