Despite benefits boost, feds post $100 million deficit through four months

OTTAWA _ The federal Finance Department says the government ran a $100-million deficit through the first four months of the current fiscal year, a significant decline from the same period last year.

Between April and July 2016, the Liberals had posted a deficit of $2.8 billion.

The government’s monthly fiscal monitor says the smaller deficit figure is the result of a 6.8 per cent boost in revenues to $101.3 billion that largely offset spending increases.

Corporate and personal tax revenues were up by $1.9 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively, compared to the same period last year. Excise taxes increased by $2.2 billion, or 12.8 per cent, mostly on the back of a $1.9-billion spike in GST revenues.

Spending on programs rose by 4.8 per cent to $93.4 billion through the first four months of the fiscal year, including $1.3 billion more in child benefits, a 20.2 per cent increase from the same time last year, reflecting the Liberals’ new child benefit that came into effect in July 2016.

The federal treasury also provided $900 million more in elderly benefits, a bump of six per cent, reflecting Canada’s growing seniors’ population that has reached historic heights as well as changes to consumer prices to which the benefits are tied.

Over the same period, public debt charges dropped by 5.6 per cent, $500 million.