Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says she’ll soon tell Canadians how deep the red ink is.
Blacklock’s Reporter says it comes ahead of new Statistics Canada data on per capita debt levels.
“Look, we know how important it is to be transparent with Canadians about public finances and to update them regularly,” said Freeland on Wednesday.
“We will release some form of Fiscal Update this fall and will have more specifics to share with you in the coming days.”
Cabinet had forecast a $354.2 billion deficit last year, another $154.7 billion in 2021 and $59.7 billion in 2022. The previous record deficit was $55.6 billion in 2010.
Freeland’s comments came as the cabinet introduced Bill C-2 An Act To Provide Further Support In Response To Covid-19. The bill detailed $7.4 billion in previously-announced spending.
“I see this legislation as very much the last step in our COVID support programs,” said Freeland.
“It is what I really hope and truly believe is the final pivot.”
The bill includes a Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit Act to pay $300 weekly to workers who “lost their employment income” due to public health lockdown orders. Eligible payments run retroactively from October 24 to at least May 7, 2022 and as late as next July 2, by cabinet order.
“Our economic recovery is still uneven,” said Freeland.
“The public health measures that are saving lives continue to restrict some economic activity.”
Bill C-2 also extends a Local Lockdown Program for employers with grants worth up to 75% of rents and wages.
“This is really important because it will ensure local authorities and public health officials can continue to make the right public health choices knowing the support will be there,” said Freeland.
Parliament this year amended the 2017 Borrowing Authority Act to increase the federal debt ceiling from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion, a 56% increase. Statistics Canada is to report next month on per capita federal debt levels.
The last estimate put bonded federal debts at the equivalent of $22,915 for every resident of Canada.
“There will be a day of reckoning,” Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said in an earlier Commons debate on deficit spending.
Cabinet has set no timetable to balance the budget for the first time since 2007.
“Balanced budgets may be more than 10 years away,” said McKay.
“I have been out and about with constituents and others. The general pattern of the conversation is to lament the progress of this pandemic and then the conversation tends to move toward how we will pay for this.”