Freeland set to deliver update on federal finances and economic outlook

The Finance Minister will present an economic update today under pressure for more assistance to industries badly hurt by surging COVID-19 infections in many parts of Canada, but without a plan to bring COVID-19 spread under control.

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals will provide Canadians with a long-awaited update on the health of federal finances later today, and potentially unveil a suite of new spending.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver the fall economic statement in the House of Commons around 4 p.m. local time in Ottawa, after markets close.

The fall economic statement should have a full accounting of pandemic spending so far, and the depth of this year's deficit, which in July was forecast at a historic $343.2 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Estimates vary of how deep a deficit the Liberals will unveil today, with a Scotiabank report Friday saying a range of $400 billion to $450 billion is possible given the government's minimal reporting and mixed political signals.

Observers are keeping a close eye on how much spending space new promises take up, which could limit the capacity for the government to spend in next year's budget before deficits become permanent.

The government is expected to reveal a small step today towards a national child-care system.

The government is also under some pressure to produce targeted aid for industries like travel and restaurants that may take longer to recover from the pandemic.

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