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Deficit of $11 billion and other highlights from Quebec’s 2024-25 budget

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard on Tuesday tabled his sixth budget, with big spending increases for health and education. Here are some highlights.

– Deficit of $11 billion, which includes a $1.5-billion contingency reserve and a $2.2 billion payment into a fund dedicated to reducing debt.

– Revenues of $150.3 billion, an increase of 2.4 per cent; expenditures of $157.6 billion, an increase of 4.4 per cent.

– Economic growth — real GDP, adjusted for inflation — is expected to rise by 0.6 per cent in 2024 and by 1.6 per cent in 2025.

– Balanced budget no later than 2029-30 fiscal year, but no precise timeline for getting there until next year’s budget.

– Two largest expenditures are health care at $61.9 billion, up 4.2 per cent, and education at $22.4 billion, up 9.3 per cent.

– Plan to find $2.9 billion in savings over five years by abolishing or reforming certain business tax credits; by asking provincially owned companies — including the hydro utility and the liquor board — to reduce expenses; and by investing in programs to increase tax collection and fight economic crime.

– Phasing out rebates for the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles beginning next year, with complete elimination as of January 2027.

– A tax increase on tobacco products of two dollars per carton of 200 cigarettes, effective Wednesday, with another identical increase on Jan. 6, 2025.

– Federal transfers will be $29.4 billion, down 6 per cent, largely due to last fiscal year’s one-time health transfer and by changes to the federal equalization formula.

– Net debt will be $221.1 billion on March 31, 2024, or 39 per cent of GDP, the second-largest as a percentage of GDP among provinces, behind only Newfoundland and Labrador.

– Interest payments on debt will be $9.8 billion, an increase of 1.2 per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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