Canada August budget deficit widens to C$3.67 on higher program expenses

People pass near Parliament Hill the morning after the federal election in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada posted a budget deficit of C$3.67 billion ($2.81 billion) in August, up from a C$1.88-billion deficit in the same month last year, as program expenses outpaced revenues, preliminary data from the federal finance ministry showed on Friday.

Program expenses increased by 7.4% in August on higher transfers to persons and direct program expenses, while revenues fell by 1.2%, primarily because of a decline in excise taxes and duties, the department said in its monthly Fiscal Monitor report.

For the first five months of the 2019/2020 fiscal year, Canada posted a deficit of C$5.22 billion compared to a surplus of C$2.56 billion in the same period in 2018/2019.

Revenues between April and August grew by 2.9%, in part because of growth in personal income tax revenues, while program expenses posted a 9.1% gain on major transfers to people and other levels of government.

The financial results presented in the Fiscal Monitor, the department said, have not been audited or reviewed by an external auditor, adding there “can be substantial volatility in monthly results due to the timing of revenue receipts and expense recognition.”

Kelsey Johnson