The much-needed economic update by the opposition in the House of Commons will finally take place, albeit in a lighter version, in the middle of summer. After opposing it for weeks on the grounds that the exercise would be too uncertain, the federal government will present a budgetary “portrait” on July 8, during one of the four days of parliamentary work scheduled this summer to cross the period of pandemic.
“It will give us an update on the economy, how our response compares to that of other countries and what we might expect in the future,” said Trudeau who , in English, spoke of a “snapshot” rather than an economic “update”.
Justin Trudeau’s government has not presented a budget this year. He was due to do so on March 30, but due to the closure of Parliament and the confinement of society in general, the event did not take place. Since then, Mr. Trudeau has justified the absence of figures for the overly uncertain future caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Just last week, the Prime Minister said that to establish “what the state of our economy will be in a year or three years would be completely based on estimates and even almost random choices.” It would be, he added, “an exercise in invention and imagination.”
Trudeau maintained the line on Wednesday, arguing that the July 8 fiscal year will not be an economic update in the traditional sense, with predictions of budget balances over several years. “An economic update would still be unrealistic,” he said. An economic update includes forecasts of what could happen in the next few years, over three to five years. And that obviously, we will not be able to share that. Rather, it will be a summary of spending to date to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as “some forecasts of what we may see in the coming months.” No way to go beyond that, said Trudeau.
The Conservative Party has been calling for such an update for several weeks, and the Bloc Québécois agreed with this idea a few days ago. Neither of them was satisfied with Wednesday’s announcement.
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“Why wait until July when all parliamentarians are at home with their fellow citizens, while Canadians and Quebecers are on vacation, while journalists take a well-deserved break? Asked Conservative MP Alain Rayes during the question period. ” It’s a lack of respect. “
Bloc Québécois Gabriel Ste-Marie concurred and assumed that if the federal government did not update sooner, it was because “it clearly wants it to happen.” “What has he got to hide?” “
Rayes recalled that Newfoundland presented an economic update two weeks ago and Saskatchewan a budget earlier this week. These two provinces, however, have almost no active cases of COVID. Quebec, which still has a lot, will present an economic update this Friday. Its March 10 budget had quickly lapsed. “If it’s an invention like [M. Trudeau] says, how is it that the provinces are able to tell the truth? Asked Rayes.
Trudeau said his government is still in crisis-responsive mode and will consider a real economic update or a budget “when the situation has stabilized.”
Ottawa’s latest financial forecast dates back to last December’s update. At that time, the federal government predicted a deficit of $ 28 billion for the current 2020-2021 year. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has since predicted that the deficit could reach 252 billion. Even before other costly announcements were made by the Prime Minister, including the two-month extension of the Canadian Emergency Benefit (CHP) which alone could cost tens of billions of dollars more.