1992 to 2012 - 20 Years of Neoliberalism

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


-1994- (Parti Québécois Elected)

  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect

    The agreement worries many societal groups, who see it as an increase in the exploitation of the poorest classes to the profit of large companies.
  • Tuition Freeze

    The Government announces the end of the tuition freeze that has been in effect since 1989.


  • 1500 doctors and 4000 nurses are forced by the government to go on early retirement

    Pauline Marois, minister of Education, decides at the same time to limit enrollment in the nursing schools. The combination of these two measures will have a disastrous effect on the healthcare system.
  • Tuition Unfreeze

    Marois announces her intention to unfreeze tuition fees after less than two years of tuition freeze. A wave of student protests forces her to retreat.


  • Failure Tax implanted in Cégeps

    After the student victory of 1996, this measure goes unremarked.


  • Nurses go on open-ended general strike

    Faced with a degradation of their working conditions - notably due to the forced retirements of 1996 - Quebec's nurses stop working. When the negotiations reach an impasse, a special law puts an end to the strike.


  • Abolition of the Failure Tax

    The new Minister of Education, François Legault, abolishes the Failure Tax due to student malcontent. Student associations have noticed that, rather than the expected result, this measure causes a wave of drop-outs among the poor.

-2003- (Liberal Party Elected)

  • Suroît Project* restarted

    Charest announces that this project, which was subject to a moratorium in the early 2000s, is back on the table. In the face of protest generated by this announcement, the government does a 180 and cancels everything.


  • Daycare prices raised from $5 to $7

    Daycare costs, frozen since 1997, are raised. This measure causes an outcry. The government ignores the opposition and maintains the hike.


  • $103 million of loans converted to bursaries

    Students refuse to let the government impoverish the poorest among them and strike for five weeks. The government ends up injecting more money into the bursaries, ending the crisis.


  • Privatization of Mont Orford

    The government adopted a law allowing part of this national park located in Magog to be sold. The project immediately draws a wave of ire. Less than a month after announcing that it would not bend on this issue, the Charest government backs off, cancelling the sales.

-2007- (The Liberals are reelected with a minority of seats)

  • Gradual abolition of the tax on the capital of large corporations

    This tax, which brought in $900 million, is gradually reduced until it is abolished in 2011.
  • Middle-class income tax reduced by $950 million

    This sum is taken from a federal transfer meant for education.
  • $500 tuition hike over the course of five years

    Because the hike is small, it goes nearly unnoticed.


  • Elections are called

    Barely one year after the last elections, the Liberals campaign to have "both hands on the wheel". They will be reelected with a majority.


  • In the 60s, Québec taxpayers carried 32% of the federal tax burden, versus 68% for private corporations. This proportion has been radically inversed: individuals pay 79% whereas corporations pay 21%.


  • Raymond Bachand submits a budget that he himself describes as a "cultural revolution"

    He plans to implement a tarification scheme whose main victims will be the lower class. We can focus on the following measures:
    • Raising the first fee block of Hydro-Québec, on top of the regular fee hike
    • Implementation of a $200 "health tax"
    • Implementation of a "moderator voucher" in hospitals to limit abuse**


  • 2007 unfreeze continues

    The new tuition hike will be $1625 spread out over 2012-2017. After 2017 will continue to rise, following inflation.
  • Shale gas scandal

    A report reveals that 1/3 of the shale gas wells have leaks. The report goes in the same direction as the groups that have been demanding a moratorium on the development of this industry since 2010. The government refuses to listen to the population, favoring "economic development" over ecological wealth.
  • Launch of the North Plan

    This project aims to develop the mining industry in northern Quebec and will require a $80 billion investment over 25 years. Many fear that over the long term, the plan will not bring many benefits to Quebec citizens. We gradually realize that the permits are sold to companies for peanuts, who then pay miniscule returns.


  • Beginning of the student strike

    Around mid-February, strikes are voted one after another in student associations throughout Quebec. It`s the beginning of the longest and biggest student strike in Quebec history.
  • $58 million government loan to reopen an asbestos mine

    Asbestos being illegal in Quebec, the company that runs the mine intends to export the (very carcinogenic) product in countries with laxer regulations.

*The Suroît Project is a gas power plant project proposed by Hydro-Québec in the early 2000s

**This measure would soon be judged unconstitutional by courts, forcing the government to back off