Federal deficit hits $57 billion nearing halfway of fiscal year

·2 min read

OTTAWA — The federal government ran a deficit of more than $57 billion over the first five months of its fiscal year, about $114 billion less than the treasury pumped out during the same stretch one year earlier.

The Finance Department's regular fiscal monitor says the budgetary deficit between April and August was $57.2 billion, down from the $170.5 billion recorded over the same months in 2020 when COVID-19 first struck.

Friday's report says the deficit now reflects current economic challenges caused by COVID-19, including ongoing public health restrictions.

Program spending, excluding net actuarial losses, between April and August was $190 billion, a decline of about $64.1 billion, or 25.2 per cent drop, from the $254.1 billion in the same period one year earlier.

The fiscal monitor says the decline largely reflects lower amounts paid in emergency benefits to individuals and businesses.

Year-over-year, emergency benefits to workers declined by 66.4 per cent, or $23.3 billion, to almost $11.8 billion from $35 billion, while the wage subsidy declined to $14.5 billion from $37.4 billion between April and August.

The Finance Department says the decline of $22.9 billion, or 61 per cent, for the wage subsidy program reflects drops in the number of eligible workers and the average subsidy per employee.

Revenues between April and August reachedalmost $149 billion, which was a $51.8-billion, or 53.3 per cent, increase from the $97.2 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year, driven primarily by higher tax revenues.

Public debt charges were almost $9.7 billion, up $600 million or 6.3 per cent from the almost $9.1 billion recorded between April and August of 2020, which largely reflects higher consumer price index adjustments on real return bonds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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