Government posts $7.5B surplus for 11 months of 2015-16

The federal government ran a budgetary surplus of $7.5 billion over the first 11 months of its fiscal year 2015-16. This puts the government well ahead of its deficit prediction. The Finance Department’s latest monthly fiscal monitor, released Friday, suggests the government will have to post about a $13-billion deficit in March to match the Liberals’ 2015-16 projection of a $5.4-billion shortfall.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the expenses and revenues in the final month of a fiscal year could lead to significant changes in the numbers .

The new figures will feed into the ongoing debate of whether the previous Conservative government left the public books with a surplus when the Liberals took power last fall. The Conservatives insist Ottawa was on track for a small surplus in 2015-16, while the Liberals argue it was not the case.

Experts such as Canada’s budget watchdog have released predictions that suggest the Liberals’ have been overly prudent in their projections. The parliamentary budget officer’s analysis challenged the government’s shortfall prediction for 2015-16, saying Ottawa will instead have a $700-million surplus.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told the House of Commons that the PBO report confirmed two things: “first, the Liberal budget does not add up; and second, good news, the Conservatives did leave a surplus.”

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