Canada Said to Be Planning Early February Budget Release

Canada is working toward an early-February release of the budget for the fiscal year beginning in April amid signs the nation’s finances are improving more quickly than anticipated.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is considering releasing his fiscal blueprint in the week of Feb. 10, just before he travels to Australia for a meeting of Group of 20 officials, a person familiar with budget planning said on condition they not be identified because a final date hasn’t been made public.

Flaherty, 64, is seeking to safeguard Canada’s status as the only Group of Seven country with a stable AAA credit rating as he works to eliminate the C$56 billion ($52 billion) gap incurred in 2009-2010 amid the depths of the financial crisis.

Chisholm Pothier, Flaherty’s director of communications, said the department doesn’t comment or speculate on budget dates. Parliament resumes from a six-week break on Jan. 27.

Flaherty said this week the country may be on pace to post a bigger surplus than projected in the 2015-16 fiscal year. “Yes, we’ll balance and it won’t be close, we’re in good shape,” Flaherty said in an interview broadcast Jan. 5 on CTV Television. “We could have a larger surplus than we anticipated but we will have a surplus,” he said. Flaherty didn’t elaborate on the potential size of the surplus.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported plans for the early-February budget release earlier today.

The finance department projected in November a budget gap of C$17.9 billion for the fiscal year that ends March 31, narrowing to C$5.5 billion next year and swinging to a C$3.7 billion surplus the following year.