December 16, 2010 / 4:34 PM / in 7 years

Canada seeks faster return to balanced budgets

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday he hopes his counterparts in the country’s 10 provinces will join him in looking for ways to accelerate plans to return government budgets to surplus.

Flaherty was speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting next week with provincial finance ministers in Kananaskis, Alberta. The federal government says it plans to eliminate its budget deficit by the 2015-16 fiscal year, and the federal finance minister stressed it was the government’s “next critical task”.

”While Canada’s fundamentals remain strong, we must take steps to ensure the continued improvement of our fiscal position,“ Flaherty said. ”Given that, I hope that the ministers come out of Kananaskis with a renewed commitment to medium-term targets for balancing all federal, provincial, and territorial budgets.

“I also hope that ministers will commit to seeking ways to accelerate balanced budget plans if possible.”

Pension reform is the top issue on the agenda when Flaherty, who announced on Thursday his intent to push for a new type of pooled pension plan, meets with his provincial counterparts.

The group will also discuss the economic and fiscal outlook as well as get a briefing on monetary policy from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, Louise Egan and Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway

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