Québec around 1980

The growing role of the Quebec government

In 1980, the state was very active in Quebec’s economy and society in general. This was not the case in 1905, when it had not had much involvement in Quebec’s economy. At that time, the government had left the door open to companies and relied on them to advance the province’s economy. It also allowed the Church to care for the poor and sick. In 1980, it was different. The Quebec government managed fifteen Crown corporations that were active in various fields such as hydro, lotteries, mining and economic development.

A welfare state

As it became more and more involved in society, the Quebec government became known as a “welfare state” by providing health services and education to citizens. A welfare state intervenes in the economy by supporting small businesses and businesses in difficulty. To fulfill these new tasks, the Quebec government created several new departments each in charge of its own particular field, such as the Ministries of Environment, Education, Immigration and Cultural Development. Many people worked for these organizations. In the late 1960s, an estimated 16.6% of Quebec’s workforce worked directly or indirectly for the government.

Health and education

Starting in the 1960s the Quebec government played the main role in matters related to health and education. It created health insurance so that all Quebeckers could have access to free hospital care. It also took over administration of hospitals from the Church. In 1964, the Quebec government created the Ministry of Education, taking over the administration of Quebec’s schools and colleges which had also previously been under control of the Church.

Economic development

The Quebec government also tried to stimulate Quebec’s economy through a variety of means. First, it nationalized electricity in 1962. This had two effects: It made electricity available to all citizens at a reasonable price, and it made Hydro-Quebec the largest company in Quebec. It also created the Caisse de dépôt et placement and the Société générale de financement (SGF), two organizations that stimulated the economy by investing money in Quebec businesses.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix

See also – Traces of the past:

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