Canadian Manufacturing

Budget officer blasts lack of detail in Liberals’ $100B stimulus plan

Liberals plan to use budget to fight climate change, kick-start a bio-manufacturing industry, and build a national childcare system.

December 11, 2020  The Canadian Press

Parliament’s budget watchdog is raising red flags over the lack of details in the Liberal government’s $100-billion stimulus plan.

Freeland presented last month what the Liberals have described as a plan to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by opening the spending taps over the next three years to build a greener and more inclusive economy.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux says he is concerned by the lack of detail offered by the government on its plan, telling reporters during a briefing on Dec. 11: “For an amount of that magnitude over three years, I’ve never seen that.

“And I’m surprised the government went for that because that exposes the government and the minister of finance to significant lobbying,” Giroux added. “I can only imagine how (Freeland’s) phone must be ringing off the hook.”

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The government has said it cannot provide more details on its plans now because the money will start to roll out only after the pandemic is under control and the economy is ready for new investments to boost jobs and growth.

“Given the uncertainty of the virus, and our eventual recovery, it is premature for anyone to project exactly how the recovery will play out, or when spending will need to be wound down,” Freeland’s spokeswoman Katherine Cuplinskas said in an email.

Yet the parliamentary budget officer also suggested that if the Liberals’ spending plan is meant to help the economy return to pre-pandemic levels, it risks missing the mark.

The government has said the tap will remain open until several “fiscal guardrails” tied to the labour market are met. Those include improvements in employment, unemployment and total hours worked, though the Liberals have not revealed specific targets for each.

The Liberals have indicated that they plan to shake some up some parts of the economy, such as measures to help fight climate change, kick-start a bio-manufacturing industry to make vaccines and medication and build a national childcare system.