Canada Budget Office Says Deficits May End Before Plan

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer said the government may balance the country’s books this fiscal year, a year before the plan set out by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

There’s about a 50 percent chance the government won’t report a deficit in the 2014-15 year, which began April 1, the budget office said in a report from Ottawa today. The chances of a balanced budget rise to “more than 60 percent” in fiscal 2015, when Harper’s government has pledged it will produce a surplus before the next federal election.

The better odds of a surplus are linked to “a combination of an improved economic outlook and measures in Budget 2014, in particular further planned restraint in direct program expenses,” according to the report.

The budget officer projects a C$500 million deficit for this fiscal year, smaller than its October forecast for a C$5.6 billion shortfall. Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty forecast a C$2.9 billion deficit for 2014-15 in his Feb. 11 fiscal plan. Joe Oliver, who replaced Flaherty as finance minister last month, stuck to that forecast in a March 19 interview.

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