Federal books show $500M shortfall in first quarter of 2019-20 fiscal year

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OTTAWA — A preliminary estimate of the federal books says Ottawa ran a budgetary deficit of $500 million through the first three months of the current fiscal year, compared with a $4.3-billion surplus during the same period a year ago.

The Finance Department’s fiscal monitor says the combined shortfall for the April-to-June stretch came as growth in program spending and debt-servicing costs outpaced an increase in revenue.

The report says spending during those three months climbed 10.3 per cent — or $7.3 billion — compared with a year earlier, mostly due to increases in direct program expenses as well as transfers to individuals and other levels of government.

Year-over-year, public debt charges were up 11.5 per cent — or $700 million.

During the same period, government revenues rose four per cent — or $3.2 billion.

The Liberal government’s spring budget forecasted a deficit of $19.8 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year.