Today, the Canadian economy took centre stage and made headline news with the announcement of the country's deficit being worse than expected this year. As reported by Ottawa Bureau's Les Whittington, a total of $101 billion between this and next year make up the anticipated national debt.
With flashbulbs going off and a cluster of microphones in his face, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty faced the media today to deliver the less-than-stellar news. He admitted that between now and 2014-15, “Ottawa's budget shortfall will total more than $160 billion.”
To make things worse, the government is unsure when it will have the opportunity to reasonably “balance the books” again. A senior federal government official predicted that “it may take between five and ten years to put an end to the federal deficit.”
Flaherty, however, insists that recovery is imminent, citing the cutting of growth in government spending, a tax freeze and the trimming of transfer payments to the provinces as methods expected to be used to eventually maintain economic stability.
Says Flaherty: “”But restraining the growth in government spending will still mean tough choices for the government. It will require decisions of government that won't always be popular or pain-free.”
Cuts to important services are never popular, of course. While strengthening the nation's economy is at the forefront of most Canadians' minds these days, there are certain necessities that many will not wish to do without. Thankfully, federal government officials have already promised that there will be no cuts to payments to seniors, students and transfers to the provinces for health services.
Nevertheless, joblessness is another major issue that today's news will greatly affect negatively. With the hope of more job opportunities on the horizon, Canadians are now faced with yet another sorrowful dose of reality. As Whittington writes: “Unemployment will continue to rise and hit 9 per cent next year, up from the 7.7 per cent predicted in the January budget.”
With a pending Federal election in the works, it is without question that Canada will be looking to its leaders to address the ever-worsening state of the national economy. As the deficit grows, so do the worries of Canadian citizens.