Trudeau warns it’s ‘not a time for austerity’ ahead of first fiscal update amid pandemic

Parliamentary Budget Officer said the deficit could be as deep as $252 billion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prefaced his government’s upcoming fiscal snapshot suggesting it’s not the time for austerity, but for building a stronger, more resilient Canada.

Trudeau’s Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, will provide a fiscal update Wednesday afternoon.

Before the pandemic hit, Morneau had projected that the deficit for 2020-2021 would hit $28.1 billion.

“The road to recovery will not be an easy one, some sectors will bounce back faster than others,” Trudeau said during a news briefing Wednesday morning.

Opposition MPs have been pushing for a fiscal update since the budget was pushed back due to COVID-19.

Typically, the federal government tables a budget in the spring.

“When the pandemic hit, a lot of people lost their jobs overnight … they didn’t know if they could feed their families and we had two choices, do nothing or help Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“Now is the time for the federal government to help Canadians during a historic crisis, and that is what we did.”

Trudeau said if the federal government hadn’t taken on significant debt, “Canadians would have piled up credit card debt themselves.”

“We took on debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to,” he said. “This is not the time for austerity, but for building a stronger, more resilient Canada.”

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux has suggested the deficit could be as deep as $252 billion.

 federal public health officials released another public health modeling update on Covid-19.
Public health officials provided a modeling update on Covid-19.

Meanwhile, federal public health officials released another public health COVID-19 modelling update.

The short-term forecast suggests the severity of COVID-19 cases is in decline in Canada.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo said the goal is containing the reproductive rate of COVID-19 (Rt) to below one.

The reproductive rate means anyone contagious is spreading it to less than one other person.

Dr. Njoo said the reproductive rate has been below one for most of the last 10 weeks.

Based on data from July 2, the modelling projects the number of COVID-19 cases to range from 106,015 to 111,260 by July 17, with between 8,560 and 8,900 deaths.

Njoo also said contact tracing has been effective so far. The updated modelling shows an increase in the percentage of cases in which the source of the infection is known.