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Quebec's finance minister says the budget he is expected to present later today will be "restrained" amid what he describes as a provincial economy in stagnation.

On Monday Eric Girard told reporters south of Montreal that the billions of dollars in wage increases recently negotiated with teachers and health-care workers have further restricted the government's spending ambitions.

Quebec's real GDP — which is adjusted for inflation — contracted in the second quarter of 2023 by 0.4 per cent and by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter.

Quebec Premier François Legault has signalled that today's budget will have a larger deficit than last year's forecast, and that the government will delay its original plan to balance the books by the 2027-28 fiscal year.

Girard and Legault, however, have stayed away from using the word "austerity" to describe the government's approach to getting finances under control.

Legault has promised the budget will not include tax increases or cuts to services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.

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