Last Monday, Quebec’s Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Jean Boulet spoke to West Islanders about a $1.5 million investment in PME MTL, a business resource organization that helps with employment.
“It is important for [the government] to keep implementing concrete actions in the English community,” Boulet told the media. “We need to find jobs for all Quebecers. It is important for business. Right now, we have 116,000 jobs to be filled.”
Boulet said the rate of unemployment in Quebec’s English-speaking community is higher than its French counterpart. He hopes that the investment will help to correct the situation. The event was held at the PME MTL West Island offices in Dorval.
PME MTL provides counselling and job-matching services for individuals looking for employment, as well as financing, coaching and training for entrepreneurs. It occupies six different locations around Montreal and works with the employment agency Services Québec to provide effective services to its providers.
Parliamentary Secretary to Premier Legault Christopher Skeete said that he spoke to the English-speaking community in the Gaspé region to assess the issues related to employment that need to be addressed. “Government programs have not been adapted to the English community’s needs, tweaking needs to be done,” Skeete told the media.
Skeete has been visiting English-speaking Quebecers to find out the unemployment-related issues that people in that community are facing.
Some of these issues include a lack of French skills. Boulet and Skeete both agreed that adding French programs in the workplace and within the English communities could be a solution. “Maybe you need to retool your French skills,” Skeete told the media. “You’ll need access to French programs. We do it for immigrants, why not for the English community?”
Boulet said that people who seek to be part of this program would need to first stop at Services Québec where an evaluation of the person is done. After the person’s education and language abilities are assessed, they go to PME MTL where the next step is looked into depending on the person’s circumstances.
Nicolas Roy, the PME MTL West Island executive director, said the councillors at the organization first help with improving one’s resumé and interview techniques. Then, they would move onto matching certain jobs that fit their backgrounds and needs. “Not everybody out there is aware that there may be 10 job openings at such and such a business and 15 opening at some other business,” Roy told the media. “We know who is looking. We consult our lists and see what would be the best fit.”
Following last week’s news about the island’s new property evaluations, owners throughout the city and the rest of the West Island’s demerged suburbs are left to wonder how the new evaluations will affect their tax bill.
“If you’re planning to sell, chances are that you’re going to have a good day,” said Hans Brouillette. “But if you want to keep your property, and have no immediate plans to sell, the new evaluations will definitely affect your tax bill over the next three years.”
As the executive director of CORPIQ – the Québec Landlords Corporation – Brouillette said that the recent 13.7% (average) rise in municipal properties — more than the previous triennial 5.9% valuation hike – could indicate that we may be going back to the bad old days when there was nothing unusual about a 20% valuation hike during the early years of the Tremblay administration. Based upon real estate sales data collected over the past three years, the new evaluations will provide an arbitrary value by which the city can adjust both the island’s municipal taxes as well as its school taxes. Based upon the more than 31,000 real estate transactions on the island of Montreal that occurred over the past three years, the new rates will reflect the city’s thriving real estate market that will now affect the value of each and every one of the 488,683 properties located on the island.
As the 20% (19.8% to be exact) hike in property values throughout the Verdun borough (the highest of the boroughs) may reflect the realities of the rising cost of inner-city properties, most of the city’s owners can expect to see their property’s value rise by an average of 14% if not more. While the Plante administration is pleased to see how the new evaluations reflect both the city’s economic health as well as its prospects for the future, Mayor Plante also mentioned that her administration is determined to limit any kind of tax increase within normal rates of inflation.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” said Côte St. Luc’s Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.
“We’re not concerned with property values as much as we’re concerned about what the city needs ... and how we’re going to pay for it.”
Brownstein also mentioned that it’s going to be a different story once the new evaluation rates begin to affect the island’s so-called “independent” suburbs – especially when it’s time to pay their newly adjusted “Agglo” bill for all of the city’s usual services.
“With these new rates, there’s no way the suburbs can avoid paying more for their ‘Agglo’ services,” said Brownstein.
While Dorval is in first place with its 27.4% rate hike, rate increases include an added 23.1% for Montreal’s Town of Mount Royal (TMR), another 20.6% for Westmount, and a further 25.9 % for Beaconsfield. Many, including many of the city’s senior homeowners, may be forced to finally sell their homes because people with little more than a fixed pension income will no longer afford to keep their homes because they can no longer afford to pay their taxes.