Variant Omicron, Quebec will pay what it takes

The Quebec government will pay what it takes if the new Omicron variant upsets its economic plans and puts new pressure on health spending, says Finance Minister Eric Girard.

“There is no economic growth if there is no health security,” he hammered Monday before the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. “During the pandemic, it was unlimited health resources. Everything that was requested has been given, ”he recalled, specifying that the net bill in this chapter currently stands at $ 17 billion.

We will see what events and science teach us about this new variant of COVID-19, he said on the issue, but the government intends to “continue to allocate resources [nécessaires] ».

Eric Girard does not believe that this new development on the pandemic front is already calling into question the validity of the economic and financial update he presented on Thursday. “The growth figures for Quebec in 2021 are solid,” he said at a press briefing after his conference. “For 2022, we are conservative with our forecast and, if it had to be changed, we would do so in the budget. “

There is no economic growth if there is no health security. During the pandemic, it was unlimited health resources. Everything that was asked for was given.

With an “exceptional” economic growth of 6.5%, this year, the Minister notably revised downwards the expected deficit (from 12.3 billion to 6.9 billion) and announced 10.7 billion in new investments. over five years, including 2.1 billion to fight “galloping inflation”, almost 3 billion to counter the scarcity of labor and 4.4 billion in health.

Each 1% decline in gross domestic product (GDP) costs the government around $ 1 billion, the finance minister said.

Quebec ahead

While Eric Girard was speaking to some 300 business people who had come to hear him in a hotel in downtown Montreal, the Institut de la statistique du Québec reported a rebound in Quebec real GDP in August by 0.9% following the decline of 0.7% in the previous month. Larger than expected, this rebound brings growth for the first eight months of the year to a level 8.4% higher than it had been for the same period last year.

The Quebec economy was 1% higher at the end of August than it was just before the pandemic hit it, while Canada as a whole is still 1.4% behind . Supported by budgetary and monetary policies which will remain stimulating, this expansion should continue next year, observed in a brief analysis the economists Jocelyn Paquet and Matthieu Arseneau of the National Bank. “But all this assumes that the health situation remains under control. “

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