The federal government will give an update on the country’s finances later this month, with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland set to deliver the fall economic statement as Canadians face difficulties amid high interest rates and ongoing cost of living concerns.
The fiscal update will be presented to the House of Commons on Nov. 21, according to a senior government source, with Freeland hinting in an Oct. 24 press conference that the government would be trying to focus on housing and affordability within a fiscally responsible framework with “three principal objectives.”
Treasury Board President Anita Anand also said at that time with a lower deficit than projected, as well as an “unqualified clean audit opinion,” both will be important going into the statement.
“We are striking a balance between ensuring fiscal responsibility on the one hand, but also addressing the most urgent needs of Canadians on the other, one of which is housing,” she said.
On Oct. 24, Ottawa’s financial statements were published, revealing the deficit for the 2022-23 fiscal year came in at $35.3 billion.
That number was $7.7 billion lower than projected in the spring budget, but as the economy slows the federal government is still facing pressure to rein in spending after the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also is facing pressure to be avoid spending that could make it harder to keep lowering inflation. The Liberals are both trying to tackle the housing crisis, significant affordability challenges and their ongoing slump in the polls, trailing the Conservatives in many parts of the country.
The Bank of Canada helped relieve some pressure on Oct. 25 when it held its key interest rate for a second straight decision, but with the economy still showing signs of weakening, Ottawa will be under pressure to show officials grasp the moment and have a plan forward.
Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem has recently voiced his own concerns about the pace of government spending. After holding rates steady on Oct. 25, he said the projected fiscal spending plans at all levels of government are “not helpful” in taming inflation.
— with files from Global News’ Bryan Mullen and The Canadian Press
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