PBO: Deficit on track to hit $330 billion with COVID effects lasting years

OTTAWA — The parliamentary budget office says the federal deficit for the year is on track to hit $328.5 billion as a result of COVID-19.

That figure released this morning reflects measures announced as of the start of the month, including an estimated $225.9 billion in emergency aid in response to the pandemic.

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Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit amounts to 15 per cent of gross domestic product, making it the largest over 50-plus years of comparable data.

The Liberals said in July that the deficit would be $343.2 billion, but that didn't include new possible spending, or measures coming in under budget.

Much of the spending is expected to be temporary as the government tries to put a financial floor under households and businesses feeling economic pressure from the pandemic.

Budget officer Yves Giroux says in his report that the budget deficit will fall to about $73.8 billion next year and continue to fall in ensuing fiscal years.

But in a nod to how dramatically the government's fiscal position has changed, his report estimates deficits roughly $40 billion larger each year, on average, compared to the outlook the office provided pre-pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2020.

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