On December 12, the Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, Eric Girard, came to the Chamber to present his government’s recently released update on Quebec’s economic and financial situation.
He described the main measures of the anti-inflation shield along with the economic prospects and challenges that Quebec will face in the coming months.
Historic levels of inflation marked 2022
Minister Girard began his speech by reminding his audience of the forecasts he tabled as part of the budget in March.
“When the budget was tabled in March, we expected the inflation rate to be 4.8%. We were wrong. The effects of the war in Ukraine and its impact on supply chains had yet to be felt.” – Eric Girard, Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers
Government revenues, which increased greatly with inflation, have been redistributed to Quebecers.
“We made 14 billion in revenues and we gave back 13.2 billion to Quebecers to help them cope with inflation.”
He then discussed the main measure of the CAQ government’s anti-inflation shield—the cheques handed out to more than six million Quebecers.
“There are people dealing with food costs that increased by 10%, with rising rent, with higher gas prices. Seventy-five percent of the people receiving cheques earn less than $54,000. There are people who really need it.”
Wealth gap with Ontario narrowed significantly
The Minister emphasized how important it is for his government to catch up with Ontario’s standard of living.
“Since 2019, Quebec has shrunk the wealth gap with Ontario. When we came to power, the gap stood at 16.4% of GDP per capita. It is now 12.8%.”
He also mentioned that he did not think it fair for middle-class Quebecers to pay much more in taxes than people with the same income in Ontario.
“Contrary to common belief, it is not those earning $300,000 who are taxed the most. Those who earn $70,000 are the ones who are taxed 36% more than in Ontario.”
The risk of an economic slowdown in 2023
The Minister then talked about the risks of a recession in Quebec.
“Inflation is high and there is going to be an economic slowdown around the world. There will be no exception in Quebec, as we have an open economy.”
The Quebec government does not want to put its head in the sand and is keeping an eye on upcoming economic challenges.
“The main issue in 2023 will be the economic slowdown.”