Quebec raising taxes, fees

Premier Jean Charest is warning Quebecers it’s time to tighten their belts to help the province balance its books.

DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. — Premier Jean Charest is warning Quebecers it’s time to tighten their belts to help the province balance its books.

Charest told delegates Sunday at a provincial Liberal meeting in Drummondville, Quebec that the government will be forced to curb spending and limit new initiatives.

Delegates gave the Charest government a blank cheque for a general hike in tariffs, from electricity and post-secondary education to a rise in the excise tax on alcohol, junk food and energy drinks.

The government is also considering adding tolls to Quebec roads.

But the premier gave few concrete details on steps the government would take to balance its budget, promising only to protect the province’s generous social programs.

“We’ll take into account what the membership expressed on the weekend,” he told reporters at a news conference Sunday.

“We’re going to put that into a broader spectrum of where Quebec needs to be in the next 10 or 20 years, we’re going to put it in the spectrum of what we also need to do to control expenses.”

Nonetheless, Charest was clear on one point: everyone must pitch in to rebuild Quebec’s financial health.

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