While they must very soon submit the budgets of their cities, the mayors of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM) say they are increasingly worried about the financing of the deficits of transport companies. They maintain that discussions have stalled with Quebec, which has not submitted any new offers.
The rag continues to burn between the mayors and the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault. Since their release last Thursday, Valérie Plante, Stéphane Boyer and Catherine Fournier claim that they have had no communication from the government.
“It’s radio silence from the government of Quebec and the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. “No counter-offer, no telephone, no conversation, neither with the CMM, nor with the ARTM [Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain]. We are extremely worried. »
However, time is running out because cities must finalize their budgets in the coming weeks. “It puts us against the wall because cities cannot run a deficit,” argued the mayor of Longueuil, Catherine Fournier. “The income and expenditure columns must balance. We don’t know what our income will be until we have the government’s response. […] It lacks seriousness and it lacks rigor. »
Two weeks ago, Quebec announced that it would only assume 20% of the transport companies’ projected deficits of $2.5 billion over five years. The mayors responded by asking that Quebec pay a 75% share of the bill for 2024, failing which they would have to consider cuts.
Several scenarios were mentioned, including the closure of the metro after 11 p.m. and the reduction in the number of buses in all cities in the metropolitan region.
Last Friday, Minister Guilbault indicated that she was preparing to submit a new offer to the cities. However, according to the mayors, this did not materialize.
“We are not playing on equal terms today,” said the mayor of Laval, Stéphane Boyer. “We are David against Goliath and Goliath says to David: “Take the burden of all these files”. This is why today we say to ourselves that enough is enough. We cannot continue in this direction. Whether on public transportation or other issues, Quebec must be there. »
In Minister Guilbault’s office, it is maintained that the different cabinets “are in constant discussion.”
Further details will follow.