By Leah Schnurr
OTTAWA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Canada will provide an update on Nov. 1 on its economic and fiscal situation that will also consider recommendations for boosting immigration and creating an infrastructure development bank, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Thursday.
The year-old Liberal government had said it would run a deficit of C$29.4 billion ($22 billion) in the current fiscal year, but lagging growth has fueled speculation the deficit would be higher.
Morneau said the update would take into consideration an economic advisory council’s recommendations for creation of the infrastructure development bank and an agency to increase foreign investment in Canada, plus increasing the annual immigration target to offset Canada’s aging population.
The budget released earlier this year laid out a number of stimulus measures, including a plan to spend C$3.97 billion on infrastructure projects in the current fiscal year, ramping that up to C$7.32 billion the following year.
Morneau said the November update will “informed by the recommendations of the council, show how we’ll amplify those budget measures to have a greater economic impact” over the long term.
He acknowledged the economic challenges, such as disappointing growth in the United States and a slowdown in China, have been greater than were expected at the time of the budget, though he noted that the government’s forecasts had included a C$6 billion adjustment for risk.
Morneau spoke after meeting with members of his Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which released its first recommendations on how to drive long-term growth.
Oil-exporting Canada is struggling to sustainably recover from the drop in crude prices that put the country in a brief recession and forced the central bank to cut rates twice last year.
The 14-member group said a Canadian Infrastructure Development Bank could help bring in institutional money that would augment federal investment.
Projects considered by the development bank should have a value of at least C$100 million and proposals could come from various levels of government or the private sector, the report said.
The bank should be capitalized at a minimum of C$40 billion over 10 years by the federal government and be mandated to bring in C$4 of institutional money for every government dollar invested upfront.
($1 = 1.3222 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Leah Schnurr and Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Cooney and Grant McCool