OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will release its next federal budget on March 22, the finance minister said on Tuesday, setting the stage for a fresh estimate of how big the deficit will get as the Liberal government spends on infrastructure to boost the economy.
Reviving growth after the economy was hit by lower oil prices was a major plank of the Liberal's successful 2015 election campaign. The government has earmarked billions in infrastructure spending, among other measures.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters that the budget will extend past efforts to boost an economy that faces headwinds including the potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In November's fiscal update, the government forecast a budget deficit of C$25.1 billion ($18.7 billion) in fiscal 2016-2017. It did not forecast when the budget would be balanced again.
The government's spending blueprint, due to be released at 4 p.m. ET on March 22, will also focus on boosting jobs, Morneau said.
"The budget will be very much about trying to increase jobs in this country," said Morneau. "It will be about how we can help Canadians to get the skills that they need in a dynamic and changing economy."
Recommendations released last month by an economic advisory group appointed by Morneau had suggested establishing a non-government organization to operate as a laboratory for skills development.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang)