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Natural disasters pushed up federal spending last year, budget watchdog says

Flooded homes at the Siksika First Nation East of Calgary on June 23, 2013.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Canada's budget watchdog says the federal government spent slightly more in the first six months of the fiscal year than in the same period last year.

A report from the parliamentary budget office says spending on natural disaster recovery has jumped due to major floods and rainstorms in the Prairies from 2011 to 2013.

It warns that Ottawa may have to lay out even more money than the current estimated $4.1-billion liability in the future as Environment Canada predicts increased precipitation rates.

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The report also says it can't determine whether the 2012 budget cuts are fiscally sustainable because it's not getting enough information from the government.

Since the government refuses to provide the needed data, the budget office has had to use existing public resources to find the information, with limited success.

The office says almost 40 per cent of program performance can't be evaluated due to recent target changes or incomplete data.

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