Quebeconomics: more spending for fewer jobs

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ plan to spend $2 billion on job creation will end in disappointment and more debt.

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Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is setting herself and the province’s citizens up for a fall with her latest plan to spend $2 billion over the next three and a half years in the hope of creating 43,000 new jobs.

She’ll be disappointed because Quebec’s spending spree over the last 20 years, which has seen it wrack up the highest debt-to-GDP ratio of any province, has failed to make it a jobs-creating engine.

Quebec currently owes more than $21,000 (in net debt) for every man, woman and child in the province. If we go back to 1988, when that figure was around $4,500, the amount of debt that has accrued to each person in the province has increased by 366%.

Yet at the same time, the number of jobs created in the province over that time period has increased by just 29% — below the national average of 37%. If we compare Quebec to some of the fast-growing economies in Western Canada, it looks even more of a laggard.

In short, the province has far outpaced its peers in spending, yet has lagged them in job creation. The province’s current unemployment rate of 7.9% is also well above the national average of 7.1%. If anything, more spending in Quebec appears to kill job creation.

Brady Yauch is an economist and Executive Director of the Consumer Policy Institute (CPI). You can reach Brady by email at: bradyyauch (at) consumerpolicyinstitute.org or at (416) 964-9223 ext 236.

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