July 9, 2020

Winnipeg
19° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Close this

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Federal economics and fiscal 'snapshot' coming July 8: Trudeau

OTTAWA - As the country enters its 13th week since the COVID-19 pandemic clamped down hard on the Canadian economy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concedes it's time the country gets a better look at the state of the federal government's finances.

But he is also managing expectations, saying this peek into the federal balance sheet will not satisfy opposition parties' calls for a full economic update.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks out the front door of Rideau Cottage as he makes his way to speak at a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Wednesday June 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks out the front door of Rideau Cottage as he makes his way to speak at a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Wednesday June 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Instead, Trudeau is promising to deliver a "snapshot" of the federal finances in the House of Commons July 8.

"I think it will be useful for people to see the scale and the details on everything we have put out," Trudeau said during a press conference in front of his Rideau Cottage residence Wednesday.

The Liberals had scheduled the release of the 2020 federal budget in March but postponed it indefinitely when public health officials began placing restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19.

Since then, the Trudeau government has faced growing calls to release plans for an economic and fiscal update.

Uncertainty from the pandemic makes meaningful forecasts impossible, Trudeau says.

"I've consistently said an economic and fiscal update would be unrealistic right now because it automatically includes projections for a year, three years, five years ahead of time which, quite frankly, we couldn't make any responsible predictions about it," Trudeau said Wednesday.

That's why he is warning the financial details to be delivered in July will not be a full economic update, but rather a slimmed-down version, detailing government spending measures that have been rolled out so far during the pandemic with some short-term spending estimates.

Every two weeks, the Liberals have updated the Commons finance committee on the emergency COVID-19 spending measures and those reports will form the basis of what will be presented July 8, he explained.

"We will gather all that together along with a sense of where we are, comparisons to where we are compared other countries, and some estimates on where we could be in the coming months," Trudeau said.

"But this will not be an economic update, it will be more of a snapshot or a portrait of where we are right now."

Revenues have plunged and expenses have soared: millions of workers stopped earning incomes as their workplaces shut down and started collecting benefits instead. That's sent estimates of the federal deficit into orbit, to $250 billion or more.

Trudeau said the situation demanded the biggest government response in our lifetimes.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet accused the Liberals of waiting until the middle of summer to release the fiscal "snapshot" at a time Canadians are less likely to be paying attention.

"I think it is quite another lack of respect for Parliament," he told reporters Wednesday.

He accused Trudeau of acting like a "king" by not supporting requests to allow Parliament to continue operating normally through the summer in a hybrid format — with some MPs taking part in proceedings in the House of Commons chamber and some participating virtually — to improve the emergency aid programs.

"I know Canada is a monarchy, but I didn't know it had an actual king — and somebody who decides everything and makes a show of it on a daily basis and does not answer to Parliament does look like a monarchy," Blanchet said.

Trudeau reacted by saying the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives may be upset their attempts to get Parliament to resume full sittings over the summer didn't win majority support in the Commons, but this doesn't mean the country is suddenly being run by dictatorship.

"It's sort of irresponsible and it undermines I think the strength of our democracy that we've been able to show through this crisis the strength of our institutions that continue to do really important work, not just to help Canadians during this crisis but to remain accountable and engaged in our democratic processes."

As for when there will be a full fiscal update and budget, Trudeau said the government is "still very much responding to an immediate situation."

"We will continue to reflect on when that time could be right as the situation stabilizes."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.

—Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us