Soutenabilité budgétaire du Québec et vieillissement de la population : implications pour la révision de la Loi sur la réduction de la dette
The government has indicated its intention to set a new debt reduction target in the 2023-2024 budget covering the next 10 to 15 years and to adjust the Act to reduce the debt and establish the Generations Fund (DFA) accordingly. What should the government's long-term debt reduction objective be?
We believe that in order to achieve real equity between generations in a context of accelerated aging of the population, the government must support its new debt reduction target with tools to monitor and implement the long-term sustainability of Quebec's public finances.
In the following opinion, we argue that the government should place more emphasis on the long-term resilience of its public finances by ensuring that they are fiscally sustainable, rather than on the choice of specific targets formulated in terms of the public debt ratio. In the absence of regular publication of long-term budget projections by the government that are longer than the five-year fiscal framework, we turn to some of the most recent studies on Quebec's fiscal sustainability to establish the state of the situation. Despite undeniable progress since the adoption of the DLA, we find that Quebec's fiscal sustainability remains fragile. On the basis of this observation, we make the following two recommendations, which we develop in greater detail at the end of this opinion. We propose that the revision of the Act to reduce the debt and establish the Generations Fund :
- Create an obligation for the Minister of Finance to produce annually an analysis of the long-term fiscal sustainability of public finances; and
- Incorporates into the budgetary framework a sinking fund for Quebec's health insurance. This fund would aim to pre-finance the growth in health care attributable to the demographic evolution of the population and would have the objective of better distributing the burden of the growth in public financing of health care over a predictable time horizon.