Liberals face pressure for concrete ideas, economic plan in spending update

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Likewise, Elliot Hughes, who was an adviser to former finance minister Bill Morneau, said Freeland’s update should provide Canadians a sketch of an economic vision.

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That may include not only talk about child care, but also vaccine distribution and skills training and a long view on post-pandemic plans. The Liberals’ have promised a “green” recovery, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on them this week to deliver.

“People are already turning their sights on to what the recovery is going to look like,” said Hughes, now with Summa Strategies.

“Responding to that would be something, I think, Canadians are interested in.”

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.

There are varying estimates of what the deficit is now. A report Friday from RBC forecast a deficit close to $370 billion, while a separate report from Scotiabank said $425 billion is possible.

Rebekah Young, Scotiabank’s director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote the actual number shouldn’t be as much a focus as the programs that create it.

“Namely,” she wrote, “is it growth-enhancing investments that will support stronger growth, or is it tilted toward stronger social spending that drives structural deficits?”

The Liberals are facing calls for targeted help for sectors that need an extra hand, such as airlines and restaurants, to avoid a post-pandemic recovery in which some workers and businesses do well while others fall further behind.

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