Government plans deficits up to $30 billion: report

Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:20pm EST
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government plans a series of budget deficits totaling up to $30 billion as part of a stimulus package aimed at protecting the economy, the Canadian Press reported on Thursday.

Quoting an unnamed official, the Canadian Press said cumulative deficits of $20 billion to $30 billion would be over an unspecified number of years.

A Canadian government official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters the figures in the story were accurate, but would not elaborate.

The report said Harper's Conservative government plans to go into debt to fund public infrastructure and training for workers who lose jobs because of the economic downturn.

In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Wednesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed that Ottawa would run a deficit next year. He made the remarks three weeks after delivering a fiscal update that political opponents criticized for being overly optimistic in its outlook for the economy.

Anger over the fiscal update fueled formation of a coalition of opposition parties early this month that came close to toppling the government in a confidence vote.

At the Saskatoon meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers, Flaherty did not give exact numbers for a deficit, but provided a chart that suggested a 2009-10 shortfall of about $5 billion and a bigger one the following year. However, the numbers did not take into account any stimulus package that may be announced.

The government is due to deliver its budget on January 27.

($1=$1.20 Canadian)

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones and David Ljunggren; editing by Toni Reinhold)