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Quebec budget 2017: More money for health, education and Montreal’s electric train project

Click to play video: 'Quebec budget 2017: income-tax cuts, no more health contribution' Quebec budget 2017: income-tax cuts, no more health contribution
WATCH ABOVE: Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao has released Quebec’s 2017 budget. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, his third balanced budget is giving more money to health, education and Montreal’s electric train project – Mar 28, 2017

The Quebec government is putting some money back in people’s pockets with mild tax cuts and by making the elimination of a health fee retroactive to last year.

The government is increasing overall spending to $72.6 Billion – 4.1 per cent more than last year.

“In some sense, the government got lucky. They had a plan, a four year plan and it worked. Doesn’t always happen,” explained Stephen Gordon, a Laval University economist.

“The economy stayed more or less stable. They didn’t have any bad news, no big crisis.”

READ MORE: Quebec budget 2017: Investing more in education, health care

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao‘s 2017-18 budget hikes the first income tax bracket that is exempt from tax to $14,890 from $11,635.

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WATCH:Global’s Raquel Fletcher speaks to Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao about how he approached Quebec’s 2017 budget.
Click to play video: 'Carlos Leitao explains Quebec budget 2017' Carlos Leitao explains Quebec budget 2017
Carlos Leitao explains Quebec budget 2017 – Mar 28, 2017

Leitao says the measures will mean savings of $200 for 2016 and another $255 this year for a person living alone with income of less than $45,000.

READ MORE: Quebec transport projects get no money from federal budget 2017

Leitao is projecting a third consecutive balanced budget in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec budget 2017 presented to Premier Philippe Couillard

Click to play video: 'Quebec budget 2017 presented to Premier Philippe Couillard' Quebec budget 2017 presented to Premier Philippe Couillard
Quebec budget 2017 presented to Premier Philippe Couillard – Mar 28, 2017

The health sector, which accounts for almost 43 per cent of government spending, will also get more money – about $1.5 billion, bringing total spending to $36.8 billion.

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There will be a 4.2 per cent increase in education, bringing the total to almost $18 billion.

That additional $640 million will be invested in elementary, high school and university level education.

More than half of that money will go to help elementary students with difficulties and learning disabilities, as well as literacy and French language aid.

Quebec has unveiled its third balanced budget, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. The Canadian Press

The Quebec government is also committing $1.5 billion in mass transit over the next five years, as well as investing $1.3 billion in Montreal’s electric train project.

READ MORE: Proposed Montreal electric train project growing in size and cost

The new money will help the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec start construction on the project this year, with an expectation that the first trains will be on the tracks by the end of 2020.

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The pension fund calls the money an investment, saying Quebec will see a financial return when the project is complete.

READ MORE: Quebec pension fund president hopes to ‘revolutionize mass transit’ with electric train project

The proposed REM is slated to stretch 67 kilometres from Brossard to Deux-Montagnes, with a total of 27 stations at a cost of more than $6 billion.

Negotiations are still ongoing with the federal government for another $1.3 billion.

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

The province is expecting economic growth of 1.7 per cent in 2017 and 1.6 per cent in 2018.

— with files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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