Liberal government runs $1.6B deficit four months into ’19-20 on higher spending

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OTTAWA — Preliminary numbers show the federal government posted a deficit of $1.6 billion over the first four months of the current fiscal year as program spending increased $9.1 billion — 9.5 per cent — compared with the year before.

In comparison, the Finance Department’s fiscal monitor says the government ran a $4.4-billion surplus during the same April-to-July period last year.

The report says the boost in federal spending was largely due to increases in direct program expenses and transfers to other levels of government. The spending includes $1.9 billion as part of an agreement to send funds from the federal government’s share in the Hibernia offshore oil field to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Year-over-year, public debt charges increased by $1.1 billion — or 13.3 per cent.

Government revenues were up $4.2 billion — or 3.9 per cent — compared with the same period in 2018-19, an increase mostly due to higher tax revenues and other revenues.

The Liberal government’s spring budget forecasted a deficit of $19.8 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

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