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

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Las Vegas Golden Knights move on to Stanley Cup final

Improbable run continues for NHL’s newest expansion team

Oregon’s flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale to B.C.

‘In a broader sense, we are adding legal production to an already robust illegal production’

Friends and family playing huge role in search for Vancouver Island man

Volunteers from the public join forces with SAR crews

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Mid Island’s Lego community creating, co-operating

Mid Island Lego Users Group is always looking for creative new members

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

Most Read