Budget 2022-2023: Quebec prepares checks to send to offset inflation

On Monday, Finance Minister Eric Girard introduced himself to the traditional photo session where he showed him a new pair of shoes to wear, this time supposed to demonstrate the good performance of Quebec’s economy. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

QUEBEC – We will know on Tuesday if the last budget submitted by the Legault government before the election deadline looks like it is designed in the hope of attracting more votes to the Alliance Avener Québec (CAQ) in the upcoming elections, but we already know that it is preparing to send checks to all residents to face The sudden and noticeable rise in inflation.

On the eve of his fourth budget schedule, Finance Minister Eric Girard introduced himself to Monday’s traditional photo session showing him a new pair of shoes to wear, this time with “performance” sneakers meant to illustrate the traditional image. Good performance of the Quebec economy. But he says he wants to be careful not to play Santa Claus, until a few months before the next election.

In a press release, in front of his offices located in Old Quebec, he nevertheless confirmed that his budget would include specific financial assistance measures aimed specifically at offsetting the recent increase in the cost of living. However, unlike last November’s preferred approach, when presenting its mini-budget, specific financial assistance measures would target the general population, not clients.

On Tuesday we will see how the minister’s generosity translates into, and what the extent of the announced “more general enforcement measures” will be, at a time when taxpayers are increasingly concerned about accelerating inflation and the loss of their buying power.

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In preparing his document, Minister Girard said he wanted to ensure responsible, and therefore non-partisan, management of public finances by introducing a prudent fiscal framework. “We are making decisions in Quebec’s best interest,” he commented.

Même si le mandat du gouvernement tire à sa fin dans quelques mois, le budget déposé mardi présentera une vision “à long terme”, donc étalée sur plusieurs années, du finance principales missions de l’État, ant au premier et la chef ‘Education.

Last fall, we already learned that the economic recovery was very strong in Quebec in 2021. This upward trend will be confirmed on Tuesday.

In his November mini-budget, to counter the sudden rise in consumer prices, Mr. Gerard promised a check of $275 ($400 per couple) for single people with incomes less than $50,000, or 3 million taxpayers in total. .

In November, it is estimated that Quebec’s economy will make a massive 6.5% jump in 2021. That performance will be revised down a bit on Tuesday, but it will remain strong.

The year before, the first year of the pandemic, Quebec’s deficit reached a historic high of $15 billion. Since then, it has already halved last fall, to $6.8 billion.

Mr. Gerrard on Monday did not say how high the deficit would be for the current year, according to the Treasury’s latest estimates, but the news should be good, because the structural (multi-year) deficit will be less than $3 billion, half of what the department was forecasting a year ago.

“The economy was doing very well in 2021. It was an outstanding performance. Quebec has fared better than Canada, the United States and Ontario,” the minister said, not a little proudly. In addition, the unemployment rate (at 4.5% in February) is still very low, so Quebec is back to full employment. His problem now is to aggressively address the labor shortage.

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Despite this good performance, combating the budget deficit will not be a priority. Therefore, a return to the balanced budget will not be expected before 2027-2028. Legault’s government says it wants not to make waves in this regard, to restore a balanced budget “in the most beautiful way possible”.

This cautious approach is explained by the “high degree of uncertainty” currently prevailing on the planet, due to the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, as specified by the minister, who wishes to maintain a good reprieve in the event of a severe blow or economic recession.

He assessed the current risk that the country could find itself in a recession at 25%. Usually this scenario does not exceed 10%.

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