Skip to main content

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau holds a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on July 18, 2017.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A new report says last year's federal budgetary shortfall was smaller than the government predicted last spring.

The parliamentary budget officer projects Ottawa's 2016-17 shortfall was $2.1-billion smaller than forecast.

The report says the improved deficit figure was due in large part to lower-than-expected expenses booked for the Liberals' infrastructure investment program.

The independent budget office projects the final 2016-17 shortfall at $21.4-billion, although the government's March prediction was $23.5-billion.

A preliminary Finance Department analysis of the federal books in May estimated that, after accounting for year-end adjustments, Ottawa ran a deficit last year of about $23-billion.

Looking at this year, the budget watchdog is predicting a shortfall of $24.8-billion – which is essentially in line with the federal 2017-18 deficit forecast of $24.4-billion.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he is worried an alcohol tax in the budget bill would make Canadian producers less competitive globally. The bill would automatically hike excise tax on alcohol by the rate of inflation.

The Canadian Press