The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is accusing François Legault's government of favouritism in the construction and renovation of schools.
The PLQ says an access to information request showed that all but one of the 48 approved school renovation and construction projects selected in 2023-2024 are in Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) ridings.
Liberal MNA Marwah Rizqy says meanwhile, $220 million worth of school construction work in Liberal ridings has been "put on hold."
During question period in the National Assembly Thursday, Quebec Minister of Education Bernard Drainville replied that these choices are not his responsibility. He said projects are "evaluated" by public servants based on "objective criteria."
"We don't get involved," the minister said, adding that with the CAQ holding the vast majority of seats in the National Assembly, it stands to reason that many projects will be in those ridings.
Quebec Education Minister Bernard Drainville Education dismisses the accusation, insisting that projects are chosen by bureaucrats based on objective criteria and that he has no say in where the money is spent. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)
Speaking to journalists Thursday, Rizqy said she doesn't mind there being more CAQ MNAs, "but all things considered, that doesn't give you 100 per cent of the schools."
She says two school projects have been frozen in her riding of Saint-Laurent, despite the area's growing population.
"There are around 600 children who have been transported to three other different schools due to lack of places," she said. "There are children eating on the floor."
The projects included in the Plan québécois des infrastructures (PQI) 2023-2024 will add a total of 222 classrooms across Quebec, at a cost of $677 million, allocated by the Education Ministry.
The only project not located in a riding held by the CAQ is in Vaudreuil, a seat held by independent MNA Marie-Claude Nichols, who was booted from the Liberal Party last year after a shadow cabinet spat.
A letter sent in response to Rizqy's access to information request says that "modernization projects [...] do not require authorization from the ministry; organizations prioritize and choose the asset maintenance projects they intend to carry out."