Government spending increased by more than 10 per cent over the first quarter of the fiscal year, according to the latest monthly report on federal finances.
Ottawa reported a $1-billion surplus for the month of June, which was just shy of the $1.1-billion surplus the government reported in June of the previous year.
The $1-billion surplus for June was not enough to offset the $1.4-billion deficit that Ottawa ran over April and May, leaving federal finances in a deficit position for the first quarter as a whole.
The federal books are in a slight deficit – $456-million – over the first three months of the fiscal year that started on April 1. In contrast, Ottawa posted a $4.3-billion surplus over the same three month period in 2018.
The results are contained in the Finance Department’s monthly fiscal monitor report, which tracks federal revenue and spending trends. In recent years, Ottawa has recorded large deficits in the final month of the fiscal year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers have been touring the country in recent months to make spending announcements ahead of the October election. Friday’s report shows federal spending is up across several areas, including transfers to other levels of government, spending by departments and higher debt payments.
Total expenses over the first quarter of this year were $84.8-billion, a 10.4 per cent increase over the same quarter last year.
Federal revenues over the first quarter of this year were $84.4-billion, a 4 per cent increase over the previous year.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s March budget said the deficit for the current 2019-20 fiscal year is estimated to be $19.8-billion, compared to a projected deficit of $14.9-billion for 2018-19. The official deficit figure for 2018-19 has not yet been released.
The March budget projected the size of the deficit would decline gradually to $9.8-billion by 2023-24, but the government has not announced a timeline for eliminating the deficit entirely.
The Liberal Party campaigned in 2015 on a pledge to run short-term deficits before balancing the books in 2019.