April 28, 2017 / 3:06 PM / 2 years ago

Canada budget surplus narrows in Feb from year ago

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s budgetary surplus narrowed in February compared to a year ago as revenue declined while the government spent more on programs including a revamped children’s benefit, the Finance Department said on Friday.

The government posted a surplus of C$1.29 billion ($943 million) in February, down from C$3.21 billion a year ago.

Revenue sank 1.4 percent in February from the year before as the government took in less money from personal income tax, as well as excise taxes and duties.

At the same time, program expenses rose 7.0 percent as benefits paid to the elderly, the unemployed and families increased. Children’s benefits jumped 30.5 percent after the government launched an expanded program last July.

For the first 11 months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, the government ran a deficit of C$11.46 billion as of February, compared to a surplus of C$7.47 billion in the same time frame the year before.

In its budget released last month, the government forecast a deficit of C$23.0 billion in 2016-17, which it predicted will widen to a deficit of C$28.5 billion in the current fiscal year.

The ruling Liberals ran a successful 2015 election campaign on a plan to run deficits in order to boost spending and invigorate the economy.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by David Ljunngren

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