Quebec to end fiscal year with $2.5B deficit
Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau says Quebec will balance its budget by 2015
Quebec is expected to end the current fiscal year with a $2.5 billion deficit, despite a promise from the Parti Québécois government to balance the books by next spring.
That's up from the $1.6 billion deficit left behind by the former Liberal government before the PQ took power in 2012.
Still, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau says he is satisfied with how his government is handling the economy, blaming the inflated deficit on factors beyond the control of the government.
"Expenses are under control, but revenues are not meeting targets," he told a news conference in Quebec City this afternoon.
Marceau said a drop in consumer spending, low inflation, a sluggish housing market and lower than expected tax revenues all contributed to lower revenues this year.
He said the government doesn't want to raise taxes or drastically cut spending to improve its financial position this year.
He said the financial outlook should improve over the next year. He predicts the government will end 2014-15 with a deficit of $1.75 billion.
Budget update a 'failure', Liberals say
Liberal leader Philippe Couillard criticized the finance minister and said the Parti Québécois cannot be trusted to govern.
"The party has to review its economic governance, review its electoral spending, and put a stop to public spending. It must compensate for each expense with an equivalent cut. Quebecers deserve better," Couillard said, adding that with the numbers unveiled today, the Liberal Party — like the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) — may vote against the next provincial budget.
No surprise, says Québec Solidaire
Québec Solidaire spokeswoman Françoise David said she wasn't surprised the PQ wasn't able to meet the ambitious targets set out in the budget it delivered last fall.
She pointed out that, at the time, the party called the PQ's plans to quickly balance the books "unrealistic and impossible."
"We're worried about what will happen in the coming years," she said, adding that the government made a decision not to seek out other sources of revenue, relying instead on consumer-based revenue.
with files from Canadian Press