Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux waits to appear before the Commons finance committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on March 10, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Parliament’s budget watchdog is raising red flags over the lack of details in the Liberal government’s $100-billion stimulus plan, suggesting Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s phone is likely “ringing off the hook” from lobbyists wanting a piece of the action.

Ms. Freeland presented last month what the Liberals have described as a plan to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by opening the spending taps over the next three years to build a greener and more inclusive economy.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux says he is concerned by the lack of detail offered by the government on its plan, telling reporters during a briefing Thursday: “For an amount of that magnitude over three years, I’ve never seen that.

Story continues below advertisement

“And I’m surprised the government went for that because that exposes the government and the minister of finance to significant lobbying,” Mr. Giroux added. “I can only imagine how (Ms. Freeland’s) phone must be ringing off the hook.”

The government has said it cannot provide more details on its plans now because the money will start to roll out only after the pandemic is under control and the economy is ready for new investments to boost jobs and growth.

“Given the uncertainty of the virus, and our eventual recovery, it is premature for anyone to project exactly how the recovery will play out, or when spending will need to be wound down,” Ms. Freeland’s spokeswoman Katherine Cuplinskas said in an email.

Yet the parliamentary budget officer also suggested that if the Liberals’ spending plan is meant to help the economy return to prepandemic levels, it risks missing the mark.

The government has said the tap will remain open until several “fiscal guardrails” tied to the labour market are met. Those include improvements in employment, unemployment and total hours worked, though the Liberals have not revealed specific targets for each.

Mr. Giroux predicted each of those guardrails will return to prepandemic levels within the next 18 months, which “would suggest that the size and timing of the planned fiscal stimulus may be miscalibrated. In other words, it could be too much and too late.”

However, he added, if the purpose of the spending “is to make structural changes to the economy, that’s a different story.”

Story continues below advertisement

The Liberals have indicated that they plan to shake up some parts of the economy, such as measures to help fight climate change, kick-start a bio-manufacturing industry to make vaccines and medication and build a national childcare system.

The budget officer also raised questions about the Liberals’ long-term plans to deal with a freeze on employment-insurance premiums implemented during the pandemic, which Mr. Giroux said will leave the government with a $52-billion deficit in the EI operating account.

He also flagged concerns around plans to expand how much the finance minister can borrow on behalf of the government by more than 50 per cent, including for the $100 billion in unallocated stimulus funds.

Ms. Freeland defended that plan during a parliamentary committee meeting earlier this week, describing it as a “prudent measure” to ensure the government has the flexibility needed to respond to the pandemic, but that it does not intend to borrow the money.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre told Ms. Freeland that if the Liberals don’t need the money, there is no need to raise the limit.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies