September 7, 2011
Quebec’s Distinct Implementation of Programs for the Unemployed
Alain Noël examines four recent Quebec labour market and income support initiatives.
This paper considers four recent initiatives that, together, gave the Quebec government some leeway to fashion its own labour market and income support approach. These are: the 1996-1998 National Child Benefit (NCB); the 1998 Canada-Quebec Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) and the 2009 Canada-Quebec Labour Market Agreement (LMA); the 2005 Canada-Quebec Final Agreement on the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP); and the 2007-2010 adaptations of the federal Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB). Together, these four developments touched on the main dimensions of Employment Insurance (EI) and income security policy in Canada, namely training, parental leave and income support for individuals and families. More importantly, they represented governance innovations that enhanced the role of a provincial government and, potentially, made policies more coherent on a provincial scale. All were achieved by bilateral agreements or understandings between the federal and the Quebec government. These initiatives demonstrate that bilateralism and asymmetry in employment and income programs for working-age adults is not inimical to progressive innovation, policy coherence, good governance, and the diffusion of best practices. Bilateralism and asymmetry is also consistent with the federal principle, and respectful of the diversity of labour market conditions and social preferences within the Canadian federation.View PDF