Pandemic spending leaves Quebec with $15-billion deficit for fiscal 2020-2021

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Pandemic-related spending has helped pushed Quebec's deficit to $15 billion this fiscal year, Finance Minister Eric Girard said Thursday, adding that his government doesn't expect to balance the books for another five years.
    
Girard's economic update projects a deficit of $8.3-billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year and $7 billion the following year. The province is estimating that between 2020 and 2023, it will need about $30 billion in deficit spending to manage the effects of the pandemic.
    
The finance minister said his government isn't projecting to balance the books until 2025-2026.
    
Quebec's gross domestic product will decrease by 6 per cent in 2020-2021, slightly less than the 6.5 per cent Girard predicted in June. ``We think that's pretty solid as a forecast,'' he told reporters Thursday.
    
Girard said the government plans to spend an extra $1.8 billion over the next three years on measures to stimulate the post-pandemic economy. ``The next few months are going to be very difficult,'' Girard said.
    
The update indicates Quebec will lose about 223,000 jobs in 2020 and regain 154,000 the following year. Quebec's unemployment rate is expected to be about 9.3 per cent in 2020.