By Andy Blatchford
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA: Finance Minister Bill Morneau released updated fiscal projections Monday that predict an $18.4-billion deficit in 2016-17. That number is expected to grow even larger before the budget is tabled March 22.
Here are five things that could push the Liberal budgetary shortfall beyond $20 billion next year:
- Cash for infrastructure. The Liberal government made an election-campaign promise to invest at least $5 billion next year on infrastructure, which the party argues will kick-start the sluggish economy and generate jobs. The government has also sent signals that it is considering an increased cash injection.
- Help for jobs and training. The government promised to spend nearly $2.2 billion in 2016-17 to enhance jobs and training, by taking steps such as increasing student grants and creating a youth employment strategy.
- The Liberal version of the child benefit plan. If introduced, the party’s platform projects this program would have a net new cost of $1.8 billion next year once it replaces the plan introduced by its Conservative predecessors.
- Bombardier. The Liberals are under pressure to open the public wallet to help cash-strapped aerospace manufacturer Bombardier Inc., which made a controversial plea to Ottawa for funding to help boost its troubled CSeries aircraft line. The request is believed to be $1.3 billion.
- Assistance for aboriginal Canadians. The Liberals are on the hook for a number of uncosted promises, including several for Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples: ending boil-water advisories on aboriginal reserves within five years; delivering on all 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and lifting the two-per-cent cap on federal funding for First Nations communities. Morneau confirmed Monday that next month’s budget will contain measures for indigenous Canadians.