Premier Philippe Couillard has confirmed budget day in Quebec will be on March 27th — and one of the government’s main priorities will be tackling the province’s debt.
The premier and Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced Wednesday morning that starting next year, the government will take $10 billion out of the province’s Generations Fund over the next five years to help pay down the province’s debt.
The idea is to save roughly $1 billion in interest payments on the debt — money the premier says would be spent instead on services at home.
Last year, interest payments alone on the provincial debt were about $15 billion. In recent years, the Couillard Liberals have managed to get spending under control and balance the books.
The premier touted the announcement as historic — and a result of the government’s responsible management of the economy over the last four years.
He also announced Quebec is no longer the most indebted province in Canada — though Quebec still has the largest debt per person of any province.
As of March 2017, Quebec’s debt was at $203 billion, or roughly 52 per cent of its gross domestic product. Ontario’s is larger, at $312 billion, but it has one-and-a-half times more people and its economy is larger.
Quebecers can expect lots more spending in the upcoming budget. Couillard and Leitao say the health care budget will be increased by 4.5 per cent — or another $38 billion.
The province has also pledged to subsidize 5,800 more daycare spaces, and it’s likely there’ll be money put toward the long-awaited extension of the metro’s Blue Line to Anjou.
Don’t expect any personal tax relief in the next budget, though — the government’s tax relief measures for this year were announced in November’s economic update.
-With files from CTV Montreal