The Finance Minister was in Montreal to present projects to brighten up the center and attract office workers.

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Quebec will consider unlocking new sums to support economic expansion and ensure that businesses in the hubs of the center can survive the pandemic, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said.

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Finance Minister Eric Girard “is going to do an economic update in November, and we are working now to see what other programs in all ministries we could take advantage of to continue with the relaunch of the economy,” Fitzgibbon said in an interview Friday. in Montreal on the sidelines of a business event.

“Maybe there are other sums we can get. The government is quite open to this because, in general, public finances are in a good situation ”.

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Quebec on Friday reported a deficit of $ 359 million for the three-month period ending June 30. That’s a 92 percent improvement over the $ 4.74 billion deficit reported in the same quarter a year ago, right at the start of the pandemic.

Real gross domestic product in Quebec expanded at an annualized rate of 3.4 percent in the second quarter, surpassing its pre-pandemic level with the help of strong domestic demand, the provincial statistics institute said on Thursday. Investment in machinery and equipment, domestic consumption and residential construction posted gains.

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In contrast, Canada’s GDP as a whole contracted 1.1 percent on an annualized basis.

Despite the broad economic rebound, some sectors, such as commercial real estate, are struggling.

Office vacancies in downtown Montreal rose to 13.2 percent in the third quarter, real estate firm CBRE said Thursday. That’s the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2004.

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Fitzgibbon was in town Friday at a Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce event to present eight creative projects selected to brighten up downtown Montreal and attract office workers.

Provincial funding for the initiative amounts to $ 3.1 million, part of a $ 23.5 million aid package for Montreal’s central business district that was announced in March. In total, Quebec set aside $ 75 million to help revive economic activity in the hubs of central Quebec.

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“Montreal’s economy accounts for 57 percent of Quebec’s GDP, and we can’t let it down,” Fitzgibbon said. “If more money is required, we will do it. Right now, I don’t think we have a problem with money. There are other innovation or creativity programs that we can put into practice. We can take money elsewhere to do the same. “

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COVID-19 has deprived downtown Montreal of much of its office worker population in the past 18 months. Plans to bring employees back this fall have recently been put on hold as a fourth wave sweeps through Quebec.

In fact, the enduring popularity of telecommuting likely means that downtown cores will never be as busy as they were before the pandemic, according to Fitzgibbon.

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“We have to admit that many companies are going to favor teleworking, even after health restrictions have been lifted, for reasons such as family-work balance,” said the minister. “That will be a reality.”

And since several downtown employers opened satellite offices in suburbs like Brossard or Laval during the pandemic, “maybe we will never have the same density that we had before,” he said.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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