Quebec to table budget on March 25 as coronavirus crisis continues

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard responds to reporters at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday, April 3, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot / The Canadian Press

The Quebec government will unveil its budget for the 2021-2022 year on March 25 as the health crisis drags on.

Finance Minister Eric Girard made the announcement Tuesday, one day after the federal government ruled out tabling a budget this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The next budget will allow us to continue the work started in recent months to manage the health crisis, provide support to citizens and businesses and revive the economy,” Girard said in a statement.

READ MORE: Federal government rules out March budget as it evaluates lockdowns, new variants

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“We will also give Quebecers the facts on the state of public finances and our economy in the context of the pandemic.”

The latest budget will also include an accounting change sought by Quebec’s auditor general that will increase the province’s net debt by $12.4 billion.

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The minister says the change relates to accounting norms regarding transfer payments and had been requested by the auditor general since 2013.

In February, auditor general Guylaine Leclerc told a legislative committee she thought the province had been underestimating its debt by $12 billion, adding that the situation was akin to someone receiving a credit card bill and saying the minimum payment is all they owe.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic leaves Quebec with $15 billion deficit for 2020-2021 fiscal year

The province’s last economic update was in November as the government faces a historic $15-billion deficit because of the public health crisis.

At the time, the Legault government vowed to pump billions into health care and the economy over the next three years, but some critics argued that’s not enough.

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

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