COVID-19 generation: worried about the future of public services

Generation COVID-19: worried about the future of public services

Young people fear that the historic debt that will weigh on their shoulders over the next few years will one day jeopardize the public health system.

“I am very worried as a student. If the debt continues to increase, interest will also increase and at some point we will have to cut services such as health, ”goes so far as to say Mathieu Kazan Xanthopoulos.

The Concordia University student is also the Quebec director of the Sacrified Generation Youth Engagement, a project of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation aimed at mobilizing young people to save their economic and financial future.

Like him, several wrote to the Journal to express their growing concern.

Billions in debt

According to the June 18 scenario of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Canada's federal debt stood at $ 706.1 billion at the end of fiscal year 2019-2020 and could reach $ 962.1 billion in 2020. 2021.

“The Trudeau government and past governments have created an economic pandemic in the country, which affects us even harder than the coronavirus,” adds Kazan Xanthopoulos tit for tat.

For the professor at the Department of Economics of ESG-UQAM Philip Merrigan, this debt must be put into perspective, which is comparable to that of other countries and which is not at all alarming.

As for the deficit which has widened, the disaster scenario can still be avoided if we do not relive a second wave of COVID-19 of the same magnitude as the first.

“If we repeat deficits of the same order, we will start to be in more dangerous areas. If the federal government remakes another deficit of 300 billion $, be careful ”, analyzed the expert in labor economics.

The Canada Emergency Benefit (CEP) and wage subsidy programs introduced by Ottawa in recent months are heavy, but they are ad hoc and will crumble over time, he said. However, we must not replay in the same film.

“If we were to relive the same deficit from this year next year, if the federal government made a second Containment Emergency Benefit, we would become in a perilous zone,” warns Philip Merrigan.

Savings ?

Humanities student at Cégep du Vieux Montréal Luca Desgagné-Doyon believes that Ottawa's tax measures have saved people's lives, even though he thinks that some companies may have taken advantage of the crisis to clean up their homes. their ranks.

“We gave ourselves an excuse with the pandemic to replace human workers with things that are done remotely or by machine. It is so much less expensive for companies, ”he analyzed.

Federal debt

According to the scenario of June 18

2018-2019 2 019-2020 20 20-2021
Billions $ 685.5 706.1 962.1
% of GDP 30.8% 30.6% 44.4%

Source: Parliamentary Budget Officer

Debt must challenge all citizens

Generation COVID-19: worried about the future of public services

Marie-Soleil Tremblay
Professor at the National School of Public Administration

The explosion of the debt is not trivial and could have major impacts on our public services, estimates the professor at the National School of Public Administration, in Montreal, Marie-Soleil Tremblay.

Are young people right to worry about the rapid increase in public debt?

Young people and all citizens must be challenged by indebtedness which can limit our collective ability to make future choices which will have a decisive impact on tomorrow's society and which may also limit the provision of public services, particularly in health and in education.

They say the problem is in Ottawa and not in Quebec, is that true?

While the debt is forecast to increase by 13.4% in Quebec, the increase forecast by the Parliamentary Budget Officer [in Ottawa] last June was in the order of 36.2%. Of course, many of the financial intervention measures such as the wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Benefit are federal interventions.

So in Quebec, things are getting better?

At the provincial level, we see that the situation is not the same. At the provincial level, we go from a surplus of $ 5.6 billion ($ 5.569 billion) as at March 31, 2020 to a projected deficit of $ 12.4 billion (- $ 12.373 billion) as at March 31, 2021. For information, according to the public accounts, the surplus as of March 31, 2019 was $ 8.3 billion.

Difference between deficit and debt

“The deficit is the situation in which government revenues are less than expenditures. Otherwise, we would speak of a surplus. “
“[Debt] is defined as all the loans made by the state resulting from the accumulation of deficits over time. These can only be reimbursed with surpluses. “

– Marie-Soleil Tremblay, professor at the National School of Public Administration

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