Re-engineering of the Public Sector in Quebec

Special Report: Public Action in Montreal and Los Angeles
By Marie-Claude Prémont

Jean Charest, leader of the Liberal Party, won the last general election in Quebec. The Premier’s plan to re-engineer the public sector – a program rooted in a conservative vision of the role of government – was announced in his speech at the opening of the National Assembly. The program focuses on six major areas of reorganization, and three bills introduced in the Legislature in June 2004 give indications of the nature and scope of the proposal. Those three bills make clear that the Québec Government is counting on its municipalities to play a central role in implementing the re-engineering of the public sector. In particular, all the technical public service networks of the local governments, from water supply to garbage and fire prevention, from roads to public transit, may be subjected to a rigorous system of financing which could empower both the provincial and the federal governments to impose new conditions on the local authorities, notably public-private partnerships. Municipalities were promised new sources of revenue to help finance these services. It now seems clear, however, that both the municipalities and their residents may have a high price to pay for any such new funding.

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