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  Budget 2021-2022

Québec’s debt

In recent years, the subject of the government’s debt has become more prominent in discussions on public finances. People are concerned by the size of the debt and its trend.

How much is the Québec government’s debt?

The debt increased substantially in 2020-2021, owing to the drop in revenues resulting from the contraction of the economy, and the actions taken by the government to manage the public health crisis and support the economy.

As at March 31, 2021, the gross debt will stand at $219.0 billion, or 49.5% of GDP.

The debt burden as at March 31, 2021 will nonetheless remain below the levels reached following the 2008-2009 recession and the level that still prevailed in 2017, which was 51.0% of GDP.

A stabilization of the gross debt to GDP ratio is expected starting in 2021-2022. The gross debt burden is expected to gradually decrease in the coming years thanks to the maintenance of deposits in the Generations Fund and the anticipated improvement of Québec’s financial situation.

The gross debt represents the sum of the debt issued on financial markets and the government’s commitents with regard to the retirement plans and other future benefits of its employees. The balance of the Generations Fund is substracted from the gross debt. The gross debt does not take into account the government’s assets (fixed assets, investments, etc.).

That is why, in addition to the concept of gross debt, the government uses the concepts of net debt and debt representing accumulated deficits.

Debt of the Québec Government as at March 31, 2021 according to various concepts
  Millions of
dollars
% of GDP
Gross debt (1) 218 957 49.5
Less: Financial assets, net of other liabilities (2) – 19 897  
Net debt 199 060 45.0
Less: Non-financial assets – 79 455  
DEBT REPRESENTING ACCUMULATED DEFICITS 119 605 27.1

(1) The gross debt excludes pre-financing and takes into account the sums accumulated in the Generations Fund.
(2) Financial assets include, in particular, participations in government enterprises (e.g. Hydro-Québec) and accounts receivable, minus other liabilities (e.g. accounts payable).