A day later, Morneau defends his budget

Minister fields complaints that plan doesn’t protect Canada enough from competitiveness threats

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau participates in a post-budget discussion at the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is defending his latest federal budget against complaints that it doesn’t do enough to shield Canada from shorter-term competitiveness threats linked to incoming U.S. tax reforms.

In a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Morneau says Ottawa will focus on more immediate worries like NAFTA and lower U.S. corporate taxes at the same time it takes steps to address longer-term domestic risks, such as the aging workforce.

The fiscal plan tabled Tuesday in the House of Commons was packed with billions of dollars worth of new investments, including measures to increase the labour-force participation of women.

READ MORE: B.C. welcomes Ottawa’s help on rental housing construction

To pay for it all, the Liberal government used up roughly $20 billion of additional fiscal room over the coming years that came from economic improvements, reprofiled infrastructure commitments and lower-than-expected departmental spending.

Morneau says Canada needs to play both a long game and a short game — and that the brightening economy enables the government to do just that.

In a news conference following his speech, Morneau reiterated that his department is still doing its homework on impending U.S. tax reforms that business leaders have warned could damage to the Canadian economy.

Tuesday’s budget showed the Liberal government is still predicting billions of dollars in annual deficits over the next six years.

The government is forecasting a shortfall of $18.1 billion for 2018-19, which will be followed by annual deficits set to shrink each year to $12.3 billion in 2022-23. The projections, which are similar to those the government posted in October, include annual $3-billion cushions to offset risks.

Morneau is focused on another fiscal “anchor” of lowering the net debt-to-GDP ratio, which is a measure of Ottawa’s debt burden. The budget predicts the ratio to decline each year over the outlook.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Fire crews ‘mop up’ Arbutus Ridge fire in Port Alberni

Smoky Skies Bulletin issued for Vancouver Island

Alberni’s Proteau back on top after another battle with Stouffer

Mount Brenton Ladies’ Amateur Golf Tournament has become a tale of two players

Battle for Alberni Valley Bulldogs roster spots begins

Main camp opens this week at Weyerhaeuser Arena

ARTS AROUND: Join watercolour workshops in Port Alberni

Victoria artist Joanne Thomas will provide beginner and advanced classes

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Suspect in Spiderman suit steals camera on Vancouver Island

Suspect in red and blue “onesie” caught on surveillance footage breaking into truck in Nanaimo

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Zeballos wildfire not getting any closer to town – BC Wildfire Service

Authorities optimistic about Zeballos; choppers grounded due to heavy smoke

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Most Read