July 17, 2014 Print

Many movie previews begin with a deep-voiced narrator intoning the words, “In a world where…” The viewer is invited to imagine a fantastic scenario different from the world in which he lives. The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) does something similar in a concise study by Youri Chassin, imagining how Quebec’s public finances would be different in a world in which provincial officials had stopped levels of public spending from growing faster than the general economy. MEI concludes Quebec could have enjoyed a $15 billion surplus, and decreased the annual costs of servicing its debt by $4 billion per year.  While noting that past government promises of spending restraint have failed to materialize, MEI notes the current government’s commitment to offset new public spending with equivalent reductions. This would keep government spending growing at 2.7%, or less than the 3.4% growth Quebec has averaged for the past decade. The study applauds the newfound thrift: “In light of where we would be today if we had applied such discipline a decade ago, this is clearly the direction we should take going forward.” Click here to learn more about Atlas Network partner, the Montreal Economic Institute.