Quebec finance minister says province will balance books this fiscal year

QUEBEC – The Quebec government says it is on track to balance its budget this fiscal year.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said during his economic update that last year’s deficit was $1.1 billion, lower than the $2.3 billion his government had anticipated.

Quebec should balance the books by next March 31 with little difficulty, he added.

The Liberal government intends to immediately invest an additional $20 million in the education sector and then an extra $80 million a year.

The finance minister said government spending is expected to increase by 2.7 per cent this year, compared with a 4.1 per cent hike in revenues.

“We’re spending less than we’re bringing in,” he said.

“We have finally regained total control over our public finances. The deficit for last year is much smaller than what was anticipated earlier. And, for this year, 2015-2016, we are right on track to achieve our targets of a balanced budget.”

Leitao made it clear that any announcements on major tax reform would be made only after the new federal Liberal government presents its economic policies.

“Before we do anything, we have to analyze what’s been done at the federal level — and then we will adjust,” he said.