Federal deficit hits $39.4B thanks to lower revenues, higher expenses
OTTAWA (CP) — The federal government ran up another $3.1 billion in red ink in December, bringing its deficit to $39.4 billion through the first three quarters of the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the negative numbers reflect the impact of the global economic crisis on government finances, as well as stimulus measures aimed at stabilizing the country’s economy.
The federal deficit is expected to hit $56 billion by the time the fiscal year ends March 31.
The numbers compare to a $300-million surplus for the month of December 2008 and a $400-million surplus through the first three quarters of the last fiscal year.
Flaherty says more than $16 billion of this year’s deficit is attributable to stimulus measures under the government’s Economic Action Plan — including tax reductions, enhanced EI benefits and support for the automotive industry.
Revenues were down $19.4 billion — or 11.2 per cent — through the third quarter, while program expenses were up $22 billion, or 14.8 per cent.
Public debt charges dropped $1.7 billion on a year-over-year basis due to lower interest rates. SYDNEY — The group behind the effort to designate the Bras d’Or Lake and its surrounding watershed a biosphere reserve has made its pitch to the three provincial cabinet ministers whose support is needed to go ahead with the initiative.
Nine members of the board of Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association met Tuesday with Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau, Natural Resources Minister John MacDonnell, and Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development, and senior department officials. The ministers all have some jurisdiction over the lands involved. Their endorsements are required to move the proposal forward to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“ We gave a presentation and they asked what I would regard as routine questions,” association chair Teresa MacNeil said Wednesday, adding she was happy with the meeting.
Questions asked included the process under which the designation is obtained and the group’s expectations about future funding.
“It is really very difficult to tell you that they said something positive, but if you asked me if they seemed receptive, I would say yes.”
The next stage is for the association to submit the request for the ministers’ signatures to all three ministers in writing. The letter will be dealt with when the board meets next week in Middle River.
The group has won the support of all local governments — municipal and First Nation — with the exception of Inverness County. That municipality has voted against supporting the idea, citing concerns with the size of the area involved and possible effects on local industry.
Inverness County’s reluctance to sign on was only mentioned in Tuesday’s meeting in response to a question about what their concern was, MacNeil said. That was answered by Ed MacDonald, an Inverness County councillor who sits on the association’s board.
Belliveau, who was designated as the lead minister on the file by Premier Darrell Dexter, was in caucus meetings all day and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.