Federal Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, presented his budget on March 22, 2017. The government is continuing with its planned focus on building a strong middle class through innovation, skills, partnership and fairness. Budget 2017 focuses on giving talented people the skills they need to drive our most successful industries and high-growth companies forward, while investing in Canadians’ well-being through a focus on mental health, home care and indigenous health care.

Forecasted deficits

As widely anticipated, the budget projects significant deficits over the next several years. The government forecasts a deficit of $23 billion for 2016–17 and $28.5 million in 2017–18. Over the next four years, deficits are expected to decline gradually from $27.4 billion in 2018–19 to $18.8 billion in 2021–22.

Canada continues to have the lowest total government net debt-to-GDP ratio of all G7 countries. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to decline gradually after 2018–19 reaching 30.9 percent in 2021–22.

Investing in priorities

The government is committed to making smart, necessary investments in the economy to ensure a thriving middle class, and remains committed to a responsible approach to fiscal management.

The government will initiate three new expenditure management initiatives:

  • A comprehensive review of at least three federal departments (to be determined), with the aim to eliminate poorly targeted and inefficient programs, wasteful spending and inefficient programs, and ineffective and obsolete government initiatives.
  • Initiate a three-year review of federal fixed assets to identify ways to enhance or generate greater value from government assets.
  • Initiate a review of all federal innovation and clean technology programs across all departments, as federal programs are dispersed to simplify programming and better align resources to improve the effectiveness of innovation programs.

The government will report on the progress of these reviews in Budget 2018.

The government will also introduce legislative changes to improve the organization and efficiency of government operations, as needed.