Let's draw on our strengths… to maintain our quality of life

MONTREAL, Feb. 6, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec premier Jean Charest, accompanied by Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade minister Sam Hamad and Employment and Social Solidarity minister Julie Boulet, will be meeting today with the Council of Economic Partners and the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail to discuss Quebec's economic and employment situation. In advance of this joint meeting, here is a statement by Quebec Employers Council president Yves-Thomas Dorval:

« Quebec premier Jean Charest recently began conducting a series of meetings with economic "watch teams" that have been set up in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  The aim of this initiative is to enable him to bring the government's various partners, including the Quebec Employers Council, up to date on the economic and employment situation and identify the economic opportunities for Quebec to seize in 2012.

This issue should most definitely be at the core of the 2012-13 budget plan that Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand will be tabling in the next few weeks.  The government will need to make some strategic choices among the many legitimate demands of the various societal groups according to the priorities Quebecers hold dear, whether they are education, transportation, culture or the environment.

In the short term, if the government wants to maintain a proper safety net for all Quebecers, it will have no choice but to refocus its actions if it hopes to have the required room to manœuvre to fulfill the missions it deems essential. Quebecers' disposable-income pie is indeed limited; it would be irresponsible to ask citizens and businesses to provide a greater effort to fund new government initiatives without ending other programs in return.   But in the longer term, it is clear that if Quebec society wants to preserve its generous social programs, the government will have to put the conditions in place to foster the growth of this economic pie, thereby allowing every Quebecer to prosper, so they can continue to enjoy their enviable quality of life.

Quebec, a society that draws strength from its distinctive nature

Every analyst has noted: the province of Quebec came though the last economic crisis that began in 2008 in relatively good shape in relation to other world economies. This fact is undoubtedly due in large measure to the diversity of its economy and its vast infrastructure program.  Now that the situation seems to have returned to "normal", and some governments have caught up to and even surpassed us, it is time to fully tap into the many assets we benefit from as a society, including our abundant natural resources, our enviable geopolitical position, our top-notch institutions and human resources, our peaceful social climate, our unmatched quality of life, our many economic development centres, our highly regarded creativity and our unique culture.

These are all tangible assets in which we can take pride, as I have had the opportunity of mentioning in many speaking forums over the last few months.

Major challenges for a sustainable prosperity 

This definite quality of life which Quebecers enjoy should not, however, let us be lulled into a smug indifference. The Quebec Employers Council believes there are many challenges that call for an evolution of our subsistent collective values so that Quebec society can aspire to greater prosperity.

Among the issues that should provide all Quebecers with something to ponder, a better balance between the enjoyment of life, which we all want to preserve, and the sense of responsibility required to maintain our standard of living, seems essential, as does a more positive perception of success and wealth. A change in this regard has to start by a greater openness to economic development, better collective support to bold new initiatives and higher risk tolerance, but from a sustainable development perspective. In other words, banding together to determine the conditions that are needed to see projects to fruition rather than combining forces in an effort to derail them.

As a society we should also encourage more entrepreneurship, the primary engine of economic growth, and innovation, which enables us to better compete in a sustainable manner. On this issue, we believe restructuring can be done to some of the government's financial aid programs, without adding more money, to support a range of innovative initiatives. These include developing the added value of a product or service, investing in productivity improvement in the area of equipment, process, work organization and continuing education, and supporting enhanced commercialization in lead markets.

These are the challenges we are putting forth  to Quebecers for the coming years, so that we can fulfill our dreams and collective aspirations, and advance a Quebec model where there is a better balance between enjoyment of life and responsibility, a model that could then be recognized and admired worldwide, starting by right here at home.

Yves-Thomas Dorval
President
Quebec Employers Council »

The Quebec Employers Council brings together many of Québec's largest companies and the vast majority of sector-based employers' groups, making it Québec's sole employer federation.


SOURCE CONSEIL DU PATRONAT DU QUEBEC

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