Federal Budget To Be Delivered On March 19

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver his next budget on Tuesday, March 19, his last before a federal election this fall.

Morneau announced the budget date in Parliament on Wednesday in Ottawa. He has signaled that the budget will include measures such as new prescription drug coverage and housing measures aimed at young buyers.

The budget comes after a fiscal update last fall that provided $14 billion in corporate tax breaks over six years. Budget 2019 will be the most detailed picture of federal finances since that update, which projected an $18.1-billion deficit for the current fiscal year, and a cumulative deficit of $76.8 billion, including an annual risk adjustment over the following five years.

The budget deficit is giving critics ammunition to fire at Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal government heading into an election. Trudeau campaigned in the last election in 2015 on balancing the budget by now. The government has since said that its fiscal focus is on lowering the ratio of debt to the economy, rather than balancing the budget.

Morneau has said that slower-than-expected economic growth has harmed the government’s fiscal position, along with rising interest rates and a slump in Canadian crude oil prices that have lowered federal revenues.