Quebec’s auditor general says the province is on sound financial footing heading into the provincial election.
Auditor general Guylaine Leclerc gave her blessing to the Couillard government’s budget strategy in a report released Monday, ahead of Thursday’s election call.
“All the work we have done provides us the assurance that it is plausible,” said Leclerc.
In the report, Leclerc agreed with the Liberals when they said they expect huge surpluses over the next three years: $1.8 billion in 2018-2019, $2.7 billion in 2019-2020 and $3.4 billion in 2020-2021.
“What does this report tell us? Economy is doing great, public finances are very well managed and we have margins – we have room to react, first to propose policies but also to react to the economic uncertainly which is around us, as we all know,” said Premier Philippe Couillard.
For transparency and to avoid any unpleasant surprises for the next government, lawmakers gave the auditor general’s office a mandate in 2015 to provide an objective portrait of the province’s financial situation ahead of an election.
“I think it’s very good for democracy, it will ensure that each party will have the same basis to begin their electoral platform and build their own budget based on what will be promised,” said Leclerc.
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Leclerc says she was not judging the government’s choices but analzying them for whether they were realistic.
In a press conference on Monday afternoon, the Parti Québécois said the auditor general simply confirmed that the Liberals properly added up all the numbers.
The PQ contends that upon closer inspection, any surplus is actually money that the Liberals had once cut from public services.
“They lied,” said PQ Finance Critic, Nicolas Marceau. “They lied clearly to Quebecers. Quebecers did not imagine austerity, it was taking place clearly.”
— With files from the Canadian Press