Flaherty says economic data to worsen

Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:28pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian economic data will continue to deteriorate as the country grapples with a recession, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Monday.

"I anticipated in the budget, in the economic action plan, a lot of bad news this year and we're getting it," he told reporters.

"I expect that the numbers are going to continue to deteriorate for the time being."

Statistics Canada reported on Monday that retail sales fell 5.4 percent in December, the biggest monthly drop in at least 17 years. The bad news followed a string of other economic figures, each worse than economists had anticipated and leading to suggestions the recession may be deeper than thought.

Flaherty urged Parliament to quickly pass legislation that would put into motion his $40 billion stimulus package of infrastructure spending, tax cuts and special credit facilities.

"With fiscal stimulus, with monetary stimulus that will ... get traction at a certain point, then we'll start to come out of this recession," he said.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>Finance Minister Jim Flaherty waits to testify before the Commons finance committee on Parliament Hill, February 23, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>