Quebec to announce bigger budget deficit: paper

Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:24pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Quebec will make a statement on this year's budget figures on Tuesday, and a report on Monday said the Canadian province's deficit will be higher than the C$3.9 billion (C$3.7 billion) the government forecast in March.

"Tomorrow I'll give you the numbers and make a statement on where we are in our economy," Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand told reporters on Monday, but he would not divulge any details.

'Basically, the bottom line is Quebec finances are in control and Quebec's economy is doing much better than its neighbors," Bachand said following a speech at a conference hosted by Quebec's securities regulator.

The French-language daily La Presse reported on Monday that Bachand will revise the government's budget deficit forecast higher on Tuesday, but it did not give more details.

When asked by a reporter how much the deficit would be, Bachand said: "I will speak to that tomorrow. Nice try."

The predominantly French-speaking province of 7.5 million has been hit by the economic crisis in the United States, its main export market. In late March, then-Finance Minister Monique Jerome-Forget said in her budget that Quebec would stay in the red until the 2013-14 fiscal year.

"(Quebec) is suffering because people are losing their jobs. But comparatively to Ontario, to Canada, to the United States, Quebec is suffering much less and (is) much more stable in this recession than the others around us," Bachand said.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said last week it would run a record budget deficit of C$24.7 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year. The projection was 76 percent above the forecast the Ontario government made in its March budget.

($1=$1.06 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren. Additional reporting by Jennifer Kwan and Jasmin Legatos in Montreal, editing by Peter Galloway)