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Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao to present balanced budget for 2017-18

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao.
Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao will present his 2017-2018 budget on March 28 in Quebec City, confirmed Premier Philippe Couillard.

READ MORE: Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao reflects on life as a young immigrant in the province

He is expected to present a plan that will focus on a balanced budget over the next five years.

“Quebec is in better economic health now than it was in 2014,” Leitao said.

The finance minister explained it is important to balance numbers due to the uncertain international economy, saying he is weary of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s protectionist stance.

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Following Quebec’s unexpected budget surplus last October, the government pledged to reinvest $300 million into public services – most notably, in the justice and health departments.

“There’s still work to do in health,” admitted Couillard Tuesday.

READ MORE: CAQ predicts uncertainty for Quebec economy with Trump presidency

Nevertheless, opposition parties criticized the government’s surplus, saying it was earned only by raising taxes.

“We’ll take it, but we won’t be fooled into thinking it’s Santa Claus coming with brand new gifts,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Jean-François Lisée last October.

“It’s just part of the gifts they took last Christmas and they’re bringing it back now.”

READ MORE: Quebec to invest in justice, health after budget surplus

The Liberal government has continued to insist that the extra money is a good thing.

“We had to balance the budget in order to pay less on debt,” argued Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

“When we pay less on debt we have additional money to invest.”

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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