Feb. 27 Set for Federal Budget

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will introduce the Trudeau government’s latest budget on Feb. 27 as the country faces persistent uncertainty around trade and competitiveness.

With the future clouded by such unknowns, private-sector experts will press Morneau to be cautious when they gather later this week for their annual pre-budget meeting.

Morneau will sit down Friday in Toronto with leading economists at a round-table discussion that typically includes about a dozen experts from commercial banks, think tanks and trade associations.

Finance ministers routinely call on outside economists for input and forecasts as part of the budget-writing process. Their projections are averaged to create a fiscal foundation for the budget.

Some economists say that late-2017 improvements in the economy will likely give Morneau more fiscal elbow room in the budget, compared to his October update. Others are less optimistic about the changes in recent months and expect the government to find itself in a similar budgetary position.

But regardless of the fiscal footing, there’s agreement that the government should keep its fiscal powder dry. They want Ottawa to make sure it’s ready for the still-unknown impacts of the drawn-out renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S. move to slash corporate taxes.