07/03/2015 04:56 EDT | Updated 07/03/2016 05:59 EDT

Quebec Can Withstand Economic Turbulence Caused By Oil: Minister

QUEBEC - Despite predictions that Canada is headed for recession, Quebec is in a good position to withstand the economic turbulence because of lower oil prices and a dropping dollar, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said Friday.

The first quarter of the current fiscal year was positive for the Quebec economy and the next three months should be even better, he said.

"No question of a recession in Quebec," Leitao said during a conference call with reporters. "The economy is doing better than last year. We see an acceleration in growth."

Statistics Canada reported dismal gross domestic product numbers this week — with April being the fourth straight month showing decline.

That led to both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Desjardins predicting that Canada will soon officially be in a recession, which is defined by two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

Leitao said any recession would be localized in provinces hurt by the drop in prices for fossil fuels, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Lower oil prices and a dropping dollar should benefit Quebec's manufacturing and export sectors, he added.

"Central Canada — Quebec and Ontario — are once again becoming the economic engines of the country," said Leitao.

Leitao also announced that Quebec's 2014-15 deficit clocked in at $1.8 billion, $539 million less than estimated in the budget last March.

The province is projecting a balanced budget in 2015-2016, which ends next March 31.

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