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Press release

2003-2004 Budget
Another balanced budget and concrete action
to build a more caring, more prosperous society

The 2003-2004 Budget presents a clear vision for Québec in the years to come. A confident, bold, innovative Québec where everyone can make a contribution in his or her own way. A Québec that is able to work in concert with everything in our society that moves, thinks, creates and builds. A Québec where the State has its place, but not the only place. A State that serves families and the regions. A State that plays its role to the fullest while respecting the priorities of Quebecers.


Québec, March 11, 2003 - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Economy and Research Pauline Marois today delivered the 2003-2004 Budget Speech before the National Assembly.

"The 2003-2004 Budget is being tabled in a stimulating, encouraging context. Today, we can build on some important achievements, thanks to our successes as a society with regard to sound public finances, job creation and social development. Together, we have succeeded in rising to considerable challenges, and together, we shall continue to build a dynamic, solidary Québec," stressed the Deputy Prime Minister.

Over the past few months, in conjunction with pre-Budget consultations, the Minister of Finance, the Economy and Research met with people from the 17 regions of Québec.

The consultations underscored three fundamental needs that are addressed in the 2003-2004 Budget Speech:

  • maintaining a balanced budget;
  • stimulating economic activity and job creation with a view to generating greater prosperity;
  • ensuring that this prosperity leads to a more caring society.

Thus, while maintaining balanced public finances, the 2003-2004 Budget Speech provides for clear measures to improve the quality of life of all Quebecers, in particular:

  • $225 million over three years to make it easier to balance work and family life, including a new tax credit for parental leave for self-employed workers and a new tax credit for caregivers;
  • significant initiatives totalling $27 million to make it easier for young people to remain in, or return to, the regions;
  • an additional $270 million to improve access to housing;
  • a tax deduction for the cost of employees' monthly transit passes.

No tax increases and maintenance of a zero deficit for the sixth year running

There are no tax increases in this year's Budget and the Minister announced a zero deficit for the sixth consecutive year.

"By maintaining sound, well-managed public finances, we give ourselves tools with which to take action without compromising the prospects of future generations. I want to emphasize that, thanks to our excellent budget management, we have succeeded in significantly reducing the government debt load. Between 1998 and 2003, the debt-GDP ratio fell from 43.8% to 35.1%," the Deputy Prime Minister stated.

A budget that reflects the priorities of Quebecers

Because the maintenance of a balanced budget is being accomplished in a difficult context of persistent fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces, Ms. Marois emphasized that the new initiatives announced in the 2003-2004 Budget will be entirely funded through a major budgetary reallocation.

"With this Budget, we introduce new initiatives to balance work and family life and continue building a more prosperous Québec. We make more resources available for education and health. We continue the fight against poverty. At the same time, we propose concrete measures to enhance environment quality and support our dynamic culture. And those are just the first steps we intend to take in the coming years," affirmed the Deputy Prime Minister.

The 2003-2004 Budget Speech preserves the main financial framework and will enable Québec to adapt rapidly if warranted by international events. It also prepares for the future by investing in the know-how of Quebecers and in their quality of life.

"This Budget carries a message of confidence in, and promise for, the strength of our economy, which created 170 000 jobs between December 2001 and December 2002, and the ability of the regions to participate fully in the prosperity of Québec as a whole. It paves the way for a fairer and more caring and equitable society and commits to stimulating initiatives that will enhance the quality of life of all Quebecers," Ms. Marois concluded.

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