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Quebec’s public finances are good despite a climate of ‘very high uncertainty’: AG


Quebec’s public finances are in order as the Oct. 3 election approaches, but nothing should be taken for granted due to prevailing economic uncertainty, according to the province’s auditor general.


The budget forecasts prepared by François Legault’s government are “plausible,” but the impact of the economic “climate of uncertainty” on the health of Quebec’s public finances remains “unusually high.”


Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc reached this conclusion after examining Finance Minister Éric Girard’s budget estimates for 2022-2023 and 2024-2025.


Her report, made public Monday in the National Assembly, approves the minister’s accounting methods and forecasts but urges him to be cautious about unforeseen events.


Spiralling inflation, a potential recession, the war in Ukraine and a possible next COVID-19 wave could muddy the waters and affect the government’s finances in the years to come, the auditor notes in her detailed report.


Labour shortages could also damper the government’s spending and investment plans.


Leclerc adds Quebec should prepare “an alternative scenario.”


Regarding anticipated revenues, expenditures and debt, Girard’s forecasts are “consistent” and account for various accounting parameters, such as economic forecasts, budgetary measures, tax statistics, laws and more.


Leclerc also notes that a continued rise in inflation could temporarily impact the revenues in the government’s coffers in a good way, helping to reduce the deficit.


The finance minister has set aside $2.4 billion in prudence for 2022-2023 and $2.25 billion for the following year, a “reasonable” cushion, Leclerc said, although she could not tell if it was truly enough, given the prevailing climate of uncertainty.


Quebec has set aside $2 billion to address COVID-19 in 2022-2023. 


— This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 15, 2022.

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