The UMQ asks to index the tax on fuel and registrations

(Drummondville) Municipalities are asking the government to index registrations and fuel taxes, to better finance public transport in particular.


Posted at 5:13 p.m.

Patrice Bergeron

The Canadian Press

This is part of a series of 11 demands set out by the president of the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ), Martin Damphousse, Friday afternoon, at the end of his national meeting on the future of public transport, which was held in Drummondville.

The Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, who participated in the Summit in the morning, did not say a word about this type of scenario.

The gas tax rate currently stands at $0.192 per liter. For example, if it had been indexed according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 2023, at 3.2%, the increase would have been 0.61 cents.

Municipalities are faced with recurring deficits of their public transport companies, estimated at a total of around 620 million for 2025, while the sources of financing provided by the CAQ government, through the Land Transport Network Fund (STRONG), dry up from 2025-2026: we are indeed forecasting a decrease in gasoline sales in the coming years with the electrification of transport.

An annual indexation of registrations and fuel taxes based on the CPI would bring in tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, of additional millions, it is estimated at the UMQ.

However, the organization did not provide precise data and projections.

In a study published last year, the Institute for Research in Contemporary Economy noted that FORT was suffering from a “structural problem” because its main Source of funding, the fuel tax, was plateauing.

“The income of 2.150 billion forecast for 2022-2023 could decline to around 1.6 billion in 2035,” we read. This drop cannot be offset by other income. »

In the 2024-2025 budget, however, a surplus of 284.3 million was forecast for the Land Transportation Networks Fund, mainly due to “the increase in anticipated revenues from driving license and vehicle registration fees as well as as the reduction in transfer expenditures planned for subsidized infrastructure”, we can read.

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PHOTO JACQUES BOISSINOT, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Martin Damphousse and Geneviève Guilbault

In the list of its demands, the UMQ also asks that we diversify the sources of revenue that finance public transportation.

She also calls for the government’s Quebec Infrastructure Plan to invest more in public transportation.

The UMQ also demanded that the government push back the electrification targets for public transport beyond 2030.

For what ? Because electric buses are expensive, more than 1.5 million per unit, in addition to the new infrastructure to accommodate them, and this contributes to increasing the deficit of transport companies.

Mme Guilbault expressed his openness to this demand on Friday.

Call to Ottawa

In addition, for a rare time recently, the UMQ and the Legault government have reached an agreement on collective transport to target the federal government.

Faced with the CAQ government in difficult negotiations to finance public transportation, the UMQ asked the federal government to do more.

While Mme Guilbault is under pressure from mayors to resolve the deficit of transport companies, she too has demanded funds from Ottawa.

UMQ President Martin Damphousse refused to say who precisely should pay for the recurring deficits of transport companies, in what proportion, and who should pay for the massive investments required in development.

But he suggested that we are not talking about the federal government in the current debate even though we should.

“Honestly, we must not neglect it, the federal government has an important responsibility,” he argued at a press briefing alongside the mayors of Quebec’s large cities.

The federal government must play a leading role in the development of public transportation in Quebec. We will question them, be sure of it.

Martin Damphousse, president of the UMQ

Present at the summit, Mme Guilbault, for his part, deplored the fact that there will be no federal investment program in public transportation between 2023 and 2026.

“This is why we would like a federal program brought forward, because we have a gap during which we do not have a Source of federal funding,” she declared in the press scrum after her speech.

Negotiations

The cities are asking the Legault government to help them wipe out the operating deficits of transport companies in a sustainable manner, over a five-year period, a perspective that the minister accepted.

For 2025, they are estimated at 561 million in the metropolitan region and a total of around 60 million for other large cities in Quebec.

The next meeting with the mayors will take place on May 24 and the minister wants to resolve the matter before the summer, she said.

Last year, for a deficit estimated at 424 million, the cities obtained 265 million, accompanied by an external review of their management.

This year, Mme Guilbault indicated that the amount would be lower.

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