Quebec’s 2015 budget, which will be released Thursday, should represent a turning point in cutting the province’s deficit, says the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI).

But, above all, adds the organization, it will be the first step in a long-term undertaking to put Quebec’s public finances in order.

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Over the past 40 years, says MEI, the budget has been balanced or in surplus only six times. And since 1999, the province’s public debt has increased by $95 billion.

“If we want to avoid having the same debate on balancing the budget every five or ten years, we have to address the structural causes that lead us to have recurring deficits,” says “It’s time to do things differently,” says Yanick Labrie, an economist at MEI. “The current government seems to be heading in the right direction.”

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If the Quebec government had controlled its spending growth by limiting it to the same rate as economic growth during the past ten years, MEI finds that it could have had a $15-billion surplus at its disposal.

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