Quebec cutting $3.7 billion from budget

Premier Philippe Couillard. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Premier Philippe Couillard. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Jean-Luc Lavallee, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:26 PM ET

QUEBEC CITY — A hiring freeze and budget cuts are on the horizon in Quebec as the new Liberal government tries to trim $3.7 billion to meet deficit targets.

Premier Philippe Couillard, sworn in with his cabinet on Wednesday, said Quebec is facing a nearly $5.5-billion deficit.

Speaking following his first cabinet meeting, Couillard said cuts are inevitable.

He claimed the Liberals found a greater than expected financial hole, including less than expected income from corporate taxes.

Officials have already earmarked $1.8 billion in cuts, he said, leaving $1.9 billion.

"We must act now," Couillard said.

All departments, agencies and Quebec Crown corporations will be hit with a hiring freeze and reduced overtime, travel and advertising budgets.

Operating expenses will be reduced by 3% and productivity gains must equal 2% of each agency's payroll, the premier said.


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