A day later, Morneau defends his budget

Minister fields complaints that plan doesn’t protect Canada enough from competitiveness threats

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau participates in a post-budget discussion at the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is defending his latest federal budget against complaints that it doesn’t do enough to shield Canada from shorter-term competitiveness threats linked to incoming U.S. tax reforms.

In a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Morneau says Ottawa will focus on more immediate worries like NAFTA and lower U.S. corporate taxes at the same time it takes steps to address longer-term domestic risks, such as the aging workforce.

The fiscal plan tabled Tuesday in the House of Commons was packed with billions of dollars worth of new investments, including measures to increase the labour-force participation of women.

READ MORE: B.C. welcomes Ottawa’s help on rental housing construction

To pay for it all, the Liberal government used up roughly $20 billion of additional fiscal room over the coming years that came from economic improvements, reprofiled infrastructure commitments and lower-than-expected departmental spending.

Morneau says Canada needs to play both a long game and a short game — and that the brightening economy enables the government to do just that.

In a news conference following his speech, Morneau reiterated that his department is still doing its homework on impending U.S. tax reforms that business leaders have warned could damage to the Canadian economy.

Tuesday’s budget showed the Liberal government is still predicting billions of dollars in annual deficits over the next six years.

The government is forecasting a shortfall of $18.1 billion for 2018-19, which will be followed by annual deficits set to shrink each year to $12.3 billion in 2022-23. The projections, which are similar to those the government posted in October, include annual $3-billion cushions to offset risks.

Morneau is focused on another fiscal “anchor” of lowering the net debt-to-GDP ratio, which is a measure of Ottawa’s debt burden. The budget predicts the ratio to decline each year over the outlook.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Pedestrian struck in downtown Vernon

Firefighters, ambulance and RCMP responding to incident

New attainable homes for Enderby seniors and veterans

Habitat for Humanity and Enderby Legion team up to provide attainable housing, office space

Vernon’s Together for Christmas group gathering donations for annual dinner

Together for Christmas has brought people together on Christmas Day for 11 years

SilverStar to host last 2019 pride event in North America

Rebellious Unicorns and SilverStar team up for Peak Pride in Vernon

Okanagan College students to host small press book fair in Vernon

Local novelist Laisha Rosnau among the featured writers and publishers in attendance

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

Convicted child rapist loses sentence appeal in Kelowna

The man was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2016

Representing himself, Okanagan inmate delays trial

Afshin Maleki Ighani trial adjourned until Nov. 21

Man steals poppy box from South Okanagan grocery store

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying male in surveillance footage

Okanagan Home Hardware centres raise $37,486 for breast cancer research

Donations made throughout October and were matched by Home Hardware

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

Penticton makes Maclean’s list of most dangerous Canadian cities again

City of Penticton was ranked 16th in 2018, and now ranks 19th in 2019

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Okanagan woman named one of WXN Canada’s top 100 most powerful women

This is the third year in a row Renee Merrifield has been named in the top 100

Most Read