Quebec tables $12.3-billion deficit budget, says balance will take another 6 years

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Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard has tabled a budget with a $12.3-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal year and says it’ll take another six years to balance the books.

He said today the government spent about $12 billion on COVID-19-related measures in 2020-21 and will spend another $4.3 billion on the pandemic this fiscal year.

Girard is estimating the province’s GDP will rebound by 4.2 per cent after a pandemic-induced drop of 5.2 per cent in 2020.

Debt servicing will increase by more than 12 per cent this fiscal year, to $8.6 billion. Quebec’s net debt-to-GDP ratio, which estimates the province’s ability to pay back debt, will rise by about 13 per cent this fiscal year, reaching 45 per cent.

Girard forecasts the government will spend about $131.8 billion this fiscal year, including program spending, COVID-19 measures and provisions for economic risk.

The budget calls for $5.2 billion in new program spending this year, and a total of $15.5 billion over five years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press