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Québec, February 27, 2015 Text of a speech by Québec Premier Philippe Couillard to announce the Cabinet reshuffle

The spoken version takes precedence.

Your Honour Lieutenant Governor Pierre Duchesne,
Secretary General of the Conseil exécutif Juan Roberto Iglesias,
Dear guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have invited you here today to announce changes in the composition of Cabinet.

In the current economic context, I have decided to reduce the number of departments by merging the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de la Science and the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport and to merge the Ministère du Travail and the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale.

Since we took power and in keeping with our commitments, we have regained control over public finances and introduced measures to revitalize the Québec economy.

We made this commitment to ensure that future generations in Québec will be free to make choices and to achieve their finest ambitions.

In the age of the knowledge-based economy and globalization, I believe that it is essential, in order to ensure Québec’s future prosperity, to rely on education, the key to individual and collective success.

François Blais, you will from now on occupy the position of Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research and Minister responsible for Recreation and Sport.

You come from the education sector, where you were a lecturer then dean of the Faculté des sciences sociales at Université Laval. Your excellent knowledge of the sector will be a valuable asset in the realization of the mandates assigned to you.

One such mandate is to promote perseverance and school success, from grade school to higher education.

You will put children and young people at the forefront of your initiatives.

My government is fully aware of the importance of the role that schools and teachers play in school success.

We believe that the road to the success of young people must be mapped out by those who work with them day in and day out. For this reason, we have decided to attach even greater importance to teachers and their interactions with children.

To simplify the education network is a fine challenge in order to give the schools, teachers and parents greater freedom to act and to offer children an environment in which they can achieve fulfilment.  

You will thus pursue the objective of reducing bureaucracy to reinvest in more autonomous schools and to reinvest in the success of our children.

Among the challenges that Québec is facing is that of training qualified workers who are able to satisfy labour market needs. You will also have a mandate to better match education and the manpower needs of businesses.

In your capacity as Minister responsible for Higher Education and Research, you must ensure that our colleges and universities offer training that meets the needs of a modern economy.

You will contribute to facilitating the transition between training programs in order to encourage the pursuit of their studies by students wishing to continue their learning path at the secondary school, CEGEPs and university levels.

I am aware of the daunting task that is being assigned to you but am fully confident that your qualities and skills equip you to successfully meet the challenge.

Sam Hamad, to your duties as Minister of Labour are being added those of Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity.

You will continue to act as Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region and will chair the Comité ministériel du développement social, éducatif et culturel.
You will thus pursue the mandates that you began in your capacity as Minister of Labour.

Moreover, as Minister of Employment, your priority will be to enable young people and workers to obtain the qualifications that the labour market demands.

Accordingly, within the framework of new your duties and in collaboration with your colleague the Minister of Education, you will contribute to fostering closer matching between worker training and the jobs available.

You will facilitate access to technical and occupational training among adults wishing to develop new skills and those who make the courageous decision to go back to school.

You will also ensure that employment is the best choice and that the measures that you implement encourage this choice.

Québec needs the effort of everyone who can work. It is in this way that we can lend a hand to those who need assistance.

More Quebecers on the labour market will bolster Québec’s ability to display solidarity.

You will have to protect the poorest members of society, especially young people, single individuals and newcomers, for whom integration is a major but worthwhile challenge.

I know that you will perform your duties with rigour and compassion.

Lastly, it has struck me as natural to attribute to Minister responsible for the Northern Plan Pierre Arcand the title of Minister of the Côte-Nord region.

I would like to briefly mention here that we have revived the Northern Plan for the benefit of all Quebecers and that we have already observed the visible impact of this worthwhile initiative.

In the coming weeks, I will reassign ministerial responsibility for the Lanaudière and Laurentides regions.

As the Auditor General’s recent report notes, my government has regained control of public finances. We must free Québec from the shackles of indebtedness and restore our financial leeway to reduce taxes by starting with the gradual abolition of the health tax and a reduction in our debt.

Given our debt, restoring Québec’s public finances implies calling into question certain choices and reviewing our ways of doing things. This approach demands courage and we have this courage. Is it easy? No. For me, in my capacity as Premier, it is not an option. The Québec that we leave to our children is at stake.

Please be assured that my government is united, solid and resolutely determined to do what is necessary so that, together, we can steer Québec on the road to prosperity.

Thank you.

Online as of: Febuary 27, 2015

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