The federal government’s budget deficit next year is expected to be nearly 500 percent bigger than forecast just three months ago.
The shortfall is likely to more than double the $10-billion cap promised by the Liberals.
The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is projecting a deficit of at least $18.4 billion for 2016-17. Liberals predicted a $3.9-billion shortfall in November.
When the government unveils their first budget on March 22, it will likely exceed $20 billion.
The federal Finance Department is also predicting a $15.5-billion deficit in 2017-18 — significantly higher than last fall’s $2.4-billion estimate.
The Liberals are banking on some of their vows to help revive economic growth and create jobs in Canada’s struggling economy. The party’s election platform called for billions in “new investments” for 2016-17, a tally that doesn’t include numerous uncosted Liberal promises.
To help revive the economy, the Liberal government is counting on increased infrastructure investments, the tax-bracket changes to provide relief on the middle-income bracket and adjustments to child benefits.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose criticized the Liberals as wanton spendthrifts who have no regard for the long-term consequences of their cavalier bookkeeping.
“I don’t think the Liberals know that no matter how much money they actually borrow, they actually have to pay it back … they cannot blame their broken promises and runaway spending on a slowing economy.”
The Conservatives insist they left the Liberals with balanced books, with a budgetary surplus of $3.2 billion over the first nine months of 2015-16 — from April to December 2015.
“The Liberals inherited a balanced budget because of good Conservative economic management. They blew their budget in less than 100 days solely because of their own new and uncontrolled spending. They can’t blame massive new borrowing and runaway spending on a slowing economy or a fiction that the budget wasn’t already balanced when they took office,” said Ambrose. “When it comes to spending your money, these Liberals just can’t help themselves. This out of control spending is reckless, irresponsible, and entirely the result of not being able to make the hard decisions required to respect taxpayers’ money. In fact, it brings into question Bill Morneau’s competence as Finance Minister.
“While Justin Trudeau thinks that budgets balance themselves, Canadians know that no matter how much money you borrow, and no matter the reason you borrow it, you have to pay it back.”
Ambrose expressed concern that Liberal borrowing would do little but grow the government. “The Liberals’ massive borrowing and spending makes no sense, if it doesn’t do anything to create opportunities for people to get back to work. Unfortunately, their plan is for reckless, permanent new spending that does nothing except create bigger government.”
Ambrose said Canadians – and sadly future generations – will eventually be forced to pay the bills for Liberal borrowing. “When it comes time to pay all this borrowed money back, the only realistic way they will be able to do it is through higher taxes. We already see it, as they roll back Tax-Free Savings Accounts and look to hike job-killing payroll taxes. Conservatives will stand up to runaway Liberal spending that will lead to waste, more debt and higher taxes.”