Federal coffers post $11.8 billion deficit just past midway point of fiscal year

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OTTAWA — The federal government ran a deficit of $11.8 billion over seven months of its 2019-20 fiscal year compared with a deficit of $2.1 billion in the same period last year.

The Finance Department says the deficit came as program expenses climbed $14.8 billion to $211 billion compared with $196.3 billion last year.

The bigger spending was due to increases in major transfers to persons, major transfers to other levels of government and direct program expenses.

Revenues were up $5.7 billion at $215.7 billion compared with $210 billion a year ago, due to growth in personal income tax revenues, according to the department’s monthly fiscal monitor.

Included in the revenue figures are the $28 million Ottawa received from the federal portion of assessed cannabis excise duties.

Public debt charges increased by $600 million to nearly $16.4 billion, due to higher consumer price index adjustments on real return bonds and a higher average effective interest rate on federal government treasury bills.

Figures the Finance Department released in December showed the federal deficit is slated to hit $26.6 billion this fiscal year, up from last spring’s projection of $19.8 billion.