March 20, 2012 – Quebec’s public sector debt has now reached $248 billion dollars. Following the tabling of the budget, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) updated its Quebec Debt Clock in real time. For the 2012-2013 year, the clock will advance by $10.2 billion, the equivalent of $28 million a day or $19,331 a minute.
“Zero deficit” does not mean “zero indebtedness”
“This past year, the deficit was $3.3 billion, and yet the debt increased by $13.7 billion. The thing is that even if the government announced a zero deficit, as it did from 1998-1999 to 2008-2009 after the adoption of the Balanced Budget Act, Quebec would still be nowhere near zero indebtedness,” explains Youri Chassin, author of the Viewpoint on the debt of the Quebec government published today by the MEI.
This is because certain components of the debt are not accounted for within the framework of the budget. Infrastructure investments and municipalities’ debts, which are ultimately guaranteed by the provincial government, are two examples.
“As the Auditor General pointed out, many of the government’s financial obligations totalling in the billions of dollars are removed from the attention of the general public. By looking instead at the total amount of indebtedness, as the MEI’s Debt Clock does, Quebecers can have a much more complete picture of their collective debt,” explains Jasmin Guénette, Vice President of the MEI.
* * *
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its publications, media appearances and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms. It does not accept any government funding.
Questions and answers regarding the Debt Clock (PDF)
Interview requests: Ariane Gauthier, communications coordinator, Montreal Economic Institute / Tel.: 514 273-0969 ext. 2231 / Cell: 514 603-8746 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org