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$1 trillion federal debt “realistic,” Parliamentary Budget Officer confirms

"Possible, yes. Realistic? Yes. Certainly not unthinkable," said Yves Giroux.

According to Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), there is a possibility that the country’s federal debt could reach $1 trillion this fiscal year. 

Yves Giroux told the Commons finance committee on Tuesday that it’s “possible” and “realistic” that Canada’s debt could pass the trillion-dollar mark. 

“Possible, yes. Realistic? Yes. Certainly not unthinkable,” said Giroux in a response to a question on the possibility. 

A few weeks earlier, the PBO announced that the Liberal government’s deficit for 2020 could surpass $252 billion due to increased coronavirus measures spending.

“The figure of $252 billion is very likely to be the very optimistic scenario, as opposed to the number for the deficit for the current fiscal year,” said Giroux. 

Giroux also told the committee on Tuesday that it was “very difficult” to estimate the likely deficit due to the fact that the Trudeau government has been spending Canadian taxpayer dollars so quickly. 

“It’s very difficult to estimate what is a likely deficit figure given that details are missing for some of these potentially very expensive measures,” said Giroux before reiterating how optimistic his past prediction of $252 billion was. 

“That points to the need for a fiscal update by the government to give Canadians a better idea as to what the deficit is likely to be, because the government probably has in mind a sense of how much it wants to spend on stimulus measures.” 

Giroux is calling on the federal government to provide a fiscal update to Canadians to determine exactly how much its stimulus programs would cost the nation. 

“We’ll find ways to share this with you but we have not yet been able to determine what the best way is of looking at a budget or an economic update or maybe another way of sharing information with Canadians about what we foresee for the months to come,” said Trudeau about the possibility of a budget update on May 4. 

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