The Conservative government recorded a $2.2-billion surplus in January and was in a small surplus position heading into the last two months of the current fiscal year.
Finance Canada's monthly tracking figures of the federal government's revenue and expenses shows Ottawa ran a $1.3-billion surplus from April through to January. Should those trends continue, Ottawa may be able to record a surplus one year ahead of schedule.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver's November fiscal update had forecast a $2.9-billion deficit for the current 2014-15 fiscal year and then a surplus of $1.9-billion in the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins April 1.
However that fiscal update was released at a time when Finance was assuming the price of North American crude would hold at around $81 (U.S.) per barrel. Mr. Oliver decided in January to delay the release of his 2015 budget until at least April largely because the price of oil had dropped to around $50, where it has largely remained since.
The opposition NDP and Liberals have been increasingly vocal in the House of Commons this week with their demands for a budget date. However the finance minister has rarely been in Question Period of late to respond.
Recent provincial budgets have shown the impact of lower oil prices varies dramatically by region.
On Thursday, the Alberta government announced it will run a $5-billion deficit over the next year and will increase taxes and fees in order to address the drastic reduction in revenue from oil royalties.
In contrast, Quebec said in its budget Thursday that lower oil prices will be "very positive" for the province and revised its revenue projections upward as a result of recent economic developments.
Economists expect Ottawa's finances will be impacted negatively overall because lower oil prices will cut into tax revenue and lower inflation will also lead to lower-than-expected revenue.
The federal government's monthly tracking figures can be very volatile, so it is not clear yet whether Ottawa will be in surplus this year. For instance, in the last two months of the previous fiscal year, Ottawa recorded a $5.1-billion surplus in February and then a $6.7-billion deficit in March.
The more detailed figures in Friday's report show that Ottawa's bottom line is improving thanks to a mix of spending cuts and increased tax revenue. Over the first 10 months of the fiscal year, personal income tax revenue was up $2.9-billion or 2.6 per cent and corporate income tax revenues were up $2.2-billion or 9 per cent.
Meanwhile direct program expenses were down $6.5-billion or 7.1 per cent. Ottawa is also saving about $800-million thanks to lower interest rates on bonds.