Canada ends 2018-19 fiscal year with narrower budget deficit than forecast

FILE PHOTO: The Canadian flag is seen on top of a flagpole in the midst of high-rise buildings in the financial district of Toronto April 3, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada ended the fiscal year with a C$14.0 billion ($10.56 billion) deficit on March 31, some C$900 million lower than the government projected, the federal finance department said on Tuesday in its annual financial report.

The Canadian government had estimated a deficit of C$14.9 billion in its March budget. In 2017-2018, Canada had a deficit of C$19.0 billion.

Total federal debt at the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year sat at C$685.5 billion compared with C$671.3 billion the previous year. But Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio fell to 30.9% from 31.3% in the previous year.

Revenues increased C$21.0 billion, or 6.7% from the year before, reflecting increases in all streams, but driven primarily by income tax revenues, other taxes and duties, as well as other revenues, the department said.

Meanwhile, expenses were up C$16.0 billion, or 4.8%, compared to 2017-2018, the department said. Program expenses increased by C$14.6 billion, or 4.7%, compared with the year before.

Public debt charges increased by C$1.4 billion or 6.3% from the previous year, the department said, and accounted for 6.7% of expenses in 2018-2019.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson, Editing by Steve Scherer and Marguerita Choy