Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s 2023 federal budget promises “transformative investments” in Canada’s green economy and expanded dental care, all while claiming Ottawa can rein in the cost of running the government.
The budget projects program spending will reach nearly $491 billion in the coming fiscal year, with the deficit now set to reach $40 billion.
Over the next five years, the government will increase spending by nearly $60 billion and no longer expects to be able to balance the books by fiscal 2027-28, as projected in the fiscal update last fall.
This is Freeland’s third budget as Canada’s top fiscal manager, but her first where the COVID-19 pandemic is not taking centre stage.
Instead, the budget promises massive new investment tax credits for clean technology including electricity and critical minerals as a way for Canada to keep pace with global growth in low-carbon industries.
To help pay for it all, Freeland is promising to find $15 billion in savings over five years by scaling back government travel, its use of outside consultants and a review of departmental spending.
Freeland uses positive language to describe Canada’s current economic situation, but the budget makes clear the upheaval created by the pandemic means the country is still at risk of seeing its finances take a turn for the worse by the end of this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.