Quebec's deficit is $600M dollars deeper than PQ predicted, experts say

Luc Godbout and Claude Montmarquette

A panel of two university professors say the province is $600 Million further in the hole than the PQ had reported during its budget two months ago.

The Liberals asked Luc Godbout, an expert in tax and fiscal management, and Claude Montmarquette, an economist, to evaluate the government's books. The auditor general will also be asked to review the findings.

The professors say the Parti Quebecois had noted the gap as early as last November, but never included it in its projected deficit because it had intended to find a way to make-up for the shortfall.

"They were expecting to cope with that. They were unable to do it," says Montmarquette.

Not a PQ problem

But, the two experts say Quebec has been spending beyond its means for years, including during the Liberals.

Quebec was only lightly effected by the economic crisis, and Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand has already raised the sales tax, the gas tax, and imposed a health tax, along with a number of other measures, yet the province is still having trouble balancing the books.

The two experts say this means the problem is systematic, and Quebec needs to undergo a complete revision of its programs.

"We have a social program that is more European with a taxation system that is more American. I doesn't make sense," says Montmarquette.

The pair say Quebec is headed toward serious problems because of the size of its debt and its aging population.

They're recommending that the government go beyond a hiring freeze, and impose an immediate cap on the total amount it spends on salaries.

And, they say if a revision of programs does not generate enough savings, the government should consider selling off some of its part of its profitable crown corporations, like Hydro-Quebec or the SAQ to pay off the debt.

"It's either you jeopardize your own programs, the future of your kids and granddaughters, or you simply accept the modification that has to be done," says Montmarquette.

Liberals trying to find a way out

The duo also say the Liberals' prediction for next years' economic growth is unrealistic.

The Parti Quebecois' Nicolas Marceau says the Couillard government has realized the spending commitments it made during the election campaign are not possible and is trying to find a way out.

"How will they apply their election promises?"

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  1. Steve posted on 04/25/2014 04:49 PM
    Both the PQ and Liberals know perfectly well that the provinces finances are in deep trouble. But they don't tell us because they know we can't handle the truth. Nobody ever gets elected by promising to tighten the belt. So they just claim that they have a plan and will find a way to make it work. Of course, they don't. Successive governments, both PQ and Liberal, have raised taxes to a level that makes us the laughing stock of all jurisdctions in North America. They have also failed miserably at controling costs. Even Couillard came out in favor of the ultimate corporate welfare project called Gaspesia. Both of the main parties are hopeless when it comes to public finances.
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