(Quebec) Excluded from the tax holiday for major investment projects announced in the Girard budget, aluminum smelters need not worry: the State will come to their aid in other ways, says the Minister of the Economy and ‘Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who says he has a well-stocked toolbox.

Thursday, at the end of question period, the minister acknowledged that he wanted aluminum smelters to receive this tax holiday intended for projects of at least $100 million. Finance Minister Eric Girard decided otherwise.

“I want to reassure the aluminum smelters that we are there to help them. There are different ways to help them. Mr. Girard decided that for the tax holiday, (they) were to be excluded. But I have other tools. […] We are going to help the aluminum smelters anyway. »

Pierre Fitzgibbon said lip service that his colleague’s decision “perhaps” sends a negative signal to this important economic sector. But he hinted that the quality of his contact with the industry should help to correct the situation. “The aluminum smelters in Quebec – Alcoa, Rio Tinto and Alouette – I know them all personally. My relationship with them is such…” he said.

“ I know the CEOs of the three companies […]. Two weeks ago, Mr. Jacok (Stausholm, CEO of Rio Tinto) was in Montreal. We had dinner with him, me and the Prime Minister,” he said. On March 8, François Legault had publicized on social networks only a meeting at his office with this CEO.

Pierrev Fitzgibbon says he has “sufficient tools” to help aluminum smelters. “The budget base that I have” at the Ministry, “is two billion”. “ There is always money available for economically interesting projects ”, he added.

He explained how the state helps companies: “When we help a company, we always have a percentage of aid. And there are different ways to use help. What we do: you take the tax credit, you take the tax holiday, you take other sources, labor, and when it’s short, we write a check for the difference.”