Quebec finance minister will table a budget update because of COVID

Eric Girard (CANADIAN PRESS)

Just two months after tabling it, Quebec’s finance minister says the 2020-2021 budget is no longer a reliable roadmap for the government.

Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Thursday that he will table a “supplementary statement” in June. It’s meant to allow the province to take stock of the state of its public finances after the major impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 10, when Girard tabled his budget—just two days before confinement measures began—Quebec had a surplus worth billions in its coffers. Back then, the minister predicted 2 per cent economic growth for the current year.

Now, growth is nowhere in sight and Girard says he believes Quebec’s deficit could grow to somewhere between $12 billion and $15 billion this year. The province won’t likely balance its budget for another five years, the government predicts.

In a press conference Thursday, Girard said the coronavirus has eroded public finances and it’s time to do new accounting.

His “supplementary statement” will be presented around Saint-Jean-Baptiste day on June. 24, he said.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on May 14, 2020.

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