Feds post $5.8B deficit in first half of 2019-20 fiscal year

Compare that to a surplus of $1.2 billion in the same period last year

People make their way along Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government ran a deficit of $5.8 billion over the first six months of its 2019-20 fiscal year compared with a surplus of $1.2 billion in the same period last year.

The Finance Department says the deficit came as program expenses climbed $12.4 billion to $156.9 billion compared with $144.5 billion last year.

The increase in spending was due to increases in major transfers to persons, major transfers to other levels of government and direct program expenses.

Revenues were up $6.1 billion at $164.1 billion compared with $158 billion a year ago, due to increases in personal and corporate income tax revenues, according to the department’s monthly fiscal monitor.

Public debt charges increased by $700 million to nearly $13 billion compared nearly $12.3 billion with a year ago due to higher consumer price index adjustments on real return bonds and a higher average effective interest rate on Government of Canada treasury bills.

READ MORE: Re-elected Liberals would still run big deficits, despite new taxes

The Liberal government forecasted a deficit in last spring’s budget of $19.8 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The Canadian Press

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