2008-2009 BUDGET - Press release 3 of 6 - 2008-2009 Budget Speech - DEVELOPING THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS OF QUEBECERS

    QUEBEC, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - In presenting the 2008-2009 Budget,
Minister of Finance, Minister of Government Services, Minister Responsible for
Government Administration and Chair of the Conseil du trésor Monique
Jérôme-Forget pointed out that, by 2011, Québec will have 700 000 jobs to
fill. Stressing that education is the main key to our success and the first
step toward reducing poverty, the Minister announced a series of measures
aimed at meeting the challenges awaiting us.

    Investing in higher education

    The budget provides for substantial additional investments in higher
education to enable Québec universities, CEGEPs and technical schools to
continue playing a strategic role in our society. These measures include:

    - an additional investment of $250 million over five years in our
    - additional investments of $150 million over five years to develop
      vocational and technical training, and build new bridges between
      businesses and training centres.

    Implementing the Employment Pact

    To address the growing labour shortage, the 2008-2009 Budget launches an
unprecedented training initiative, namely:

    - implementation of the Employment Pact. This measure will make it
      possible to offer training to workers who wish to enhance their
      competencies, support unemployed people in acquiring new skills,
      support social assistance recipients who wish to go back to work and,
      finally, remove the obstacles to hiring newcomers to Québec. With this
      budget, the government is investing $196 million over five years in
      this measure.

    "The Employment Pact has specific targets: reduce the number of social
assistance recipients by 50 000 and offer training to 250 000 more workers. My
colleague the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity will soon make
public all of the measures in the Employment Pact," declared the Minister.

    Enabling newcomers to participate fully in Québec's growth

    "Immigration contributes greatly to the growth of our collective wealth.
Immigration enriches our lives, our culture. It broadens our horizons," stated
the Minister. In a context of labour shortage, where competition will be stiff
between host countries seeking to attract skilled labour, the Minister

    - that immigration funding will be raised by 20%. Labour market
      integration and French instruction programs will be significantly

    "It is not just a matter of welcoming newcomers by seeing that their
essential needs are met. It is also necessary to assist them in their efforts
to integrate into Québec society. My colleague the Minister of Immigration and
Cultural Communities will give details of the use of this additional funding
of $20 million over two years," she said.

    Promoting the use of French in the workplace

    "As the premier said: 'The French language is the heart of our identity
and the primary instrument of our freedom.' The government intends to ensure
the protection and promotion of the French language in Québec, strengthen its
use in public, value mastery of the language and improve its quality. French
is the language of school, business and work. It is the language of Québec,"
stressed the Minister.
    To value French as the language of the workplace and facilitate the
integration of immigrants into companies, the budget provides for:

    - a new refundable tax credit for francization. All businesses, including
      those with 50 employees or less, will be eligible;
    - additional funding of $10 million over two years to promote the French

    "By investing in knowledge, by steering everyone, where possible, toward
work, by fostering the integration of newcomers and by strengthening the use
of French in the workplace, we are affirming our ambition that every Quebecer
participate in our success and that our success itself become the prime lever
for affirming our identity," concluded the Minister.
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For further information:

For further information: Catherine Poulin, Press Officer, Office of the
Minister of Finance, Minister of Government Services, Minister Responsible for
Government Administration and Chair of the Conseil du trésor, (418) 643-5270,
(514) 873-5363, www.finances.gouv.qc.ca

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