Quebec's finance minister tables first budget with focus on reining in deficit

QUEBEC – Quebec’s finance minister is expected to announce tough measures aimed at reining in the deficit when he tables the provincial budget today.

Carlos Leitao has said the new Liberal government will try to relaunch the Quebec economy.

Premier Philippe Couillard has warned since taking power after winning a majority in the April election that the time has come for hard economic decisions.

The government has already brought in a hiring freeze in the public sector and is doing a complete review of its programs and services.

The Liberals have said they’re aiming to meet the previous PQ government’s objective of a $1.75-billion deficit in 2014-15 and a balanced budget the following year.

But a report issued Tuesday by Quebec’s interim auditor general painted a grim picture of the province’s public finances and cast doubts on the possibility of reaching the $1.75-billion target this year.