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