Budget officer urges smaller, faster stimulus plan amid warning Liberals missing mark

Yves Giroux

OTTAWA — Parliament’s budget watchdog is taking aim at the federal Liberal government’s new spending plan, saying if the purpose is to help the economy recover from COVID-19, it risks missing the mark.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux in a report this morning notes the Liberals plan to spend $70 billion to $100 billion over the next three years on stimulus measures to get the economy back on its feet.

Yet Giroux predicts most of the jobs lost during the pandemic will be recovered by March 2022, and that if the government really wants to kick-start the recovery, it would spend less money but spend it faster.

Giroux also once again blasts the Liberals for a lack of transparency and accountability around Ottawa’s finances, including the lack of a fiscal anchor to ensure spending is sustainable over the long term.

The budget officer also takes issue with the lack of detail around the $70 billion to $100 billion in planned spending, as well as how the government plans to deal with a freeze on EI premiums over the long term.

Giroux is also raising red flags around plans to expand how much Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland can borrow on behalf of the government by more than 50 per cent, including for the $100 billion in unallocated stimulus funds.