Mr. Speaker, there is good news for the provinces in the budget brought down yesterday by our Minister of Finance. Our government has announced that no additional reduction is planned in transfers to the provinces in 1997-98.
Let us not forget, as our colleagues from the opposition often do, that Quebec continues to receive 31 per cent of transfers when it only represents 25 per cent of the population. Moreover, Quebec receives over 45 per cent of all equalization payments.
Our government has therefore done its part to preserve social and health programs. Our recent budget is a clear indication of our intention to work with the provinces to ensure sustainability.
Now it is up to the Premier of Quebec and his Minister of Finance to show us that they in turn can reduce Quebec's deficit while maintaining our social programs, as several other provinces have already done.