first_img QUEBEC CITY — Quebec’s government said on Thursday it would balance its books in 2019-20 while cutting debt and announced a plan to invest $1 billion to help keep corporate head offices in the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province.The center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government, elected for the first time in October with a legislative majority, forecast a net surplus of $2.5 billion for fiscal 2018-2019 ending March 31, after investing $3.1 billion in a provincial debt-fighting fund.The province had forecast a $1.7 billion surplus in December.The document came two days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government lavished new spending on middle-class voters in its budget, ahead of the October federal election.Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard used his first budget to support the provincial economy ahead of weaker growth expected in coming years. He announced higher spending on social programs and incentives to increase participation in the labor force by retaining older workers.Girard said Quebec would invest $1 billion toward growing business and retaining head offices, saying precise details would be announced later.He said the fund was not designed for Montreal-based construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc but “could be used” to help the company, which is at the center of a widening political scandal involving Trudeau’s government.Trudeau denies allegations that senior officials last year pressured his then-justice minister to allow the company to avoid a corruption trial by paying a big fine instead.SNC-Lavalin has said it might have to move – or cut – some of its Canadian workforce of 9,000 if the company is found guilty of bribing Libyan officials.Girard also pledged to deliver four additional fiscal years of balanced budgets.“We’re working on all these fronts to increase GDP per capita,” Girard told reporters.The CAQ said 2019 growth would be 1.8 per cent before slowing to 1.5 per cent in 2020. Last November, Girard said rising interest rates and trade turbulence between the United States and China would weigh on growth.Quebec added its net $2.5 billion surplus to a provincial contingency fund used in the case of an economic downturn, while Girard announced investments to attract private investment.Girard also said he wanted to cut Quebec’s net debt to 35 per cent from 40 per cent as a percentage of GDP by March 2024.“Pay now, benefit later, this is what this budget is all about,” Laurentian Bank chief economist Sebastian Lavoie said in an interview.© Thomson Reuters 2019 Facebook Sponsored By: Twitter advertisement More Reddit March 22, 20197:49 AM EDT Filed under News Economy Allison Lampert What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Reuters Email Recommended For YouJapan ruling bloc to keep simple majority in upper house, may get 2/3- NHK exit pollDavid Rosenberg: Deflation is still the No. 1 threat to global economic stability — and central banks know itTrans Mountain construction work can go ahead as National Energy Board re-validates permitsBank of Canada drops mortgage stress test rate for first time since 2016The storm is coming and investors need a financial ark to see them through Comment Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard is applauded by the government as he stands to present his budget Thursday.Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot Join the conversation → Featured Stories Share this storyQuebec to spend $1 billion to keep corporate head offices like SNC Lavalin’s in the province Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Quebec to spend $1 billion to keep corporate head offices like SNC Lavalin’s in the province Quebec would invest $1 billion toward growing business and retaining head offices 43 Comments ← Previous Next →last_img read more