Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is refusing to recommit to a campaign pledge capping the federal deficit at C$10 billion ($7.4 billion) amid a worsening economic outlook.
Trudeau, speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, said the government’s main objectives on fiscal policy are to keep the nation’s debt ratio falling and returning the budget to balance by fiscal 2019, when the next election is scheduled.
“The goal of what we are doing is to invest and give support to the middle class,” Trudeau said at the press conference. “The two anchor points around that is continuing to lower our debt-to-GDP ratio every year and ensuring that we restore balance to the federal budget by the end of our mandate.”
Slumping oil prices, a weaker-than-projected economy and questions about the Liberal Party’s costing estimates have raised doubts whether Trudeau will meet his campaign pledges on fiscal policy. The Parliamentary Budget Officer last week issued a report that estimated the country’s deficits would be larger and last longer than the Liberals have predicted.
Trudeau was asked about the C$10 billion deficit campaign commitment multiple times at the press conference to which he gave a variation of the same response.
The Liberal election platform committed Trudeau’s party to “modest short-term deficits of less than C$10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years.”