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Quebec finance minister aims to boost economy by spreading out spending in first budget

Economist Stephen Gordon weighs in on Quebec budget
The Coalition Avenir Québec has delivered its first provincial budget. Economist Stephen Gordon explains how the new government is spending on Quebecers.

Finance Minister Éric Girard delivered his first budget with the Coalition Avenir Québec government on Thursday, spreading out spending in many areas while hoping to improve the standard of living for most Quebecers.

In his mandate, one of his biggest challenges is spurring economic growth. Girard points out that economic growth in the years ahead is slowing down.

The budget forecasts an increase of 1.8 per cent in real GDP growth in 2019 and 1.5 per cent in 2020.

READ MORE: CAQ government tables first budget using billions left over from Liberals

Canada’s economic growth is projected to increase by 1.7 per cent in 2019, but it is expected to remain the same in 2020.

While Girard is offering no personal income tax cuts, he said he is trying to stimulate the economy.

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As part of his budget, there are pay roll tax cuts, incentives to retain workers in the labour force and new measures to attract immigrants. These are all part of a five-year plan to deal with a chronic labour shortage.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec City faces serious labour shortage

Quebec City faces serious labour shortage
Quebec City faces serious labour shortage

The province is also increasing its spending to service the debt.

Almost $9 billion is being spent to pay it down in 2019-2020. This marks a 1.1 per-cent increase compared to the year before.

READ MORE: Billions earmarked for education in Quebec budget but critics say don’t expect services

The budget projects lowering the debt to 45 per cent of GDP by next year. It currently stands at 46.1 per cent — the lowest it has been in 20 years.

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“Quebec’s economy needs more private investment,” Girard said during his press conference. “More labour force, more education and less debt. And we’re working on all the fronts to increase GDP per capita.”