(A complete article published originally in the WFP, July '75)
QUEBEC - The latest estimate on the deficit of the 1976 Olympic games is higher than the total budget originally planned of $234 million.
Documents presented to the national assembly's municipal affairs committee now show a possible difference between income and expenditure of from $221 million to $296 million.
With the announcement in Ottawa of the cancellation of plans to start two gold coin fund-raising programs the difference rose to between $275 million and $321 million.
Even this figure does not account for such federal expenditures for the games as $25 million by the CBC, from $33 to $35 million by three levels of government for security in the province of Quebec and additional sums to be spent in Ontario for the same purpose.
Committee members also found that the city may have underbudgeted the possible cost of financing projects as much as $12 million.
The presentation by organizing Committee and Montreal Officials appears moreover to have been over positive on the expected income from the sale of broadcasting rights to foreign counties, by perhaps as much as $15 million.
A total deficit of $400 million does not appear unreasonable.
Canada sponsored Montreal's campaign for the games on the condition that they be organized on a self-financing basis. Quebec guaranteed to pay any possible deficit.
In January, in response to reports that costs were getting out of hand and work was falling behind, the national assembly committee took a thorough look at the Olympics organization, decided that it was too late to cancel the games and agreed that they would take place.
With a year to go until opening day, the committee reconvened Wednesday to get the latest facts.
The tone was set by chairman Michel Gratton (Liberal-Gatineau) who said the committee wanted explanations "as to the cost of Olympic installations and the holding of the games, as to the timetable of work to date and as to the predictions of income from the games."
The theme was picked up by Municipal Affairs Minister Victor Goldbloom who has expressed dissatisfaction at the "mysterious" style of financial administration of the City of Montreal in general and of the games in particular.
"But," he said, "we are now six months past the point of no return."
The basic consideration should be, he added, "that the games will take place, that the pride of Montrealers, of Quebeckers, of Canadians will be such that the games will be a success.
"But in the meantime want is the balance sheet … and how will we settle the bill of this event which will be successful but which will1 cost a great deal."
As far as Marcel Leger of the separatist Parti Quebecois is concerned, it is up to the federal government to pick up the larger part of the tab.
To date the major part of income from the games has come from federally-organized programs with Quebec merely keeping an eye on spending.
But Mr. Leger feels that Ottawa should be responsible for an even greater part of the financing.
"After all." he said, "we are still part of Canada and half our taxes go to Ottawa."
The federal government was responsible both for the lacklustre performance of fundraising schemes, because it took so long to pass the enabling legislation and for the inflationary economy which is a major reason for rising costs.
The mayor was not his usual effervescent self. Dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and an Olympic old-boy’s tie, he continually fidgeted through the hearing picking at his moustache, at one adjusting a microphone being used by the games commissioner general Roger Rousseau and at another getting into a shouting match with the Parti Quebecois members of the committee.
He has so far refused to comment on any possible changes in the self-financing programs on deficit.
The committee appeared to accept the fact the work on games installations was more or less on schedule.