From Budgetary to Tax Expenditures: Tackling Social Protection in Quebec, Canada


In his 2018 article “Reimagining Social Protection” Michal Rutkowski, the World Bank’s Global Director for Social Protection and Jobs, highlighted the need for new social protection systems that retain their original purpose of fighting poverty, helping households manage uncertainty, and ultimately sparking a more efficient and equitable economy, while recognizing that “the changing nature of work is upending traditional employment and its benefits”. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the urgency of the review of social protection regimes he called for.

A comprehensive analysis of the status quo is critical for that. Against this background, this research paper aims to contribute to tracing the current contours of social protection expenditures in Quebec by answering the following question: what are the social protection expenditures incurred by the Quebec government and what objectives do they target?

To that end, it is important to pinpoint all the measures used by the Quebec government, such as cash allowances, in-kind provision of services, as well as tax expenditures. Too often underestimated, the latter refer to measures implemented through taxation that result in both revenues forgone for the government and a monetary benefit for the recipient household.