Photo: Jacques Boissinot The canadian Press
“We are going to maintain all of the commitments that we had in health, education, environment, so we are going to continue the expenditures that were already planned”, said Mr. Legault. He does not plan to return to budget balance before a “few years”.
The prime minister François Legault, was excluded from Tuesday to freeze State spending to return the budget to balance. His Finance minister, Eric Girard, should make a point about the state of the public finances on Friday for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I think that when there is a slowdown in the private sector, it is time that the public sector intervenes, recalled the prime minister. We would have liked that bill 61 be adopted so that we can accelerate several infrastructure works. “
“We are going to maintain all of the commitments that we had in health, education, environment, so we are going to continue the expenditures that were already planned “, he added. Mr. Legault does not plan to return to budget balance before a ” few years “. The minister Éric Girard had already indicated that it expects to achieve over a five-year horizon.
The quebec government always anticipates a deficit that fluctuated between 12 and 15 billion dollars. The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has had a significant impact on the revenues and expenditures of the State. “It speaks of more than $ 3 billion of additional expenditures in health, said Mr. Legault. We also have, when you look at the help that has been given to individuals and companies, another $ 3 billion of additional spending to boost the economy. “
The situation contrasts with that which prevailed at the time the budget for the year 2020-2021, a few days before the world health Organization does not officially declares a pandemic. The minister of Girard had presented a balanced budget, after a payment of $ 2.7 billion in the generations Fund, and provided for an increase in expenditure of 5.1 %.
Bill 61 : no changes in sight
The prime minister François Legault, who was on tour at Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, has defended repeatedly his bill on the economic stimulus that the opposition parties and the independent mna Guy Ouellette has been able to block Friday.
“It is all for the defence of the environment, but the delays are really unacceptable, and then it was the topic most mentioned by the mayors to revise the deadlines for implementation of small to large projects,” said Mr. Legault. He gave the example of the bypass route of highway 73 that the government wanted to accelerate to stimulate the economy.
This omnibus bill, which gave the government extraordinary powers for two years, has been the subject of sharp criticism, notably in terms of integrity. Several groups were concerned that it would not permit a return of the corruption and the collusion.
For now, Mr. Legault does not seem to consider new amendments to the bill 61 to allay these fears, but he intends to return to the load this fall to better explain it. “The transportation projects, whether highways or public transportation, it should happen more quickly. This is not normal that it has four, five, seven years to complete any project “, he argues.
“There is a process, for example, in environment where there are a series of questions that are asked, [then] there are answers, it may take a few months, he explained. After, there is another series of questions, so another two months of responses and there is another series of question ! It stretches like that over the years. Is there a possibility of finding a way to make it more rapidly, while respecting the requirements ? “
Bill 61 seeks to accelerate 202 infrastructure projects across the Quebec — Houses of the elderly, NURSING homes, hospitals, primary and secondary schools, repair of roads and transit projects — to stimulate the quebec economy was severely hit by the pandemic.