Finance Department says Ottawa posted $3 billion deficit for March

Ottawa ran a deficit of $3 billion in March compared with a deficit of nearly $6.7 billion in the same month last year as federal government revenue outpaced increased spending.

Ottawa ran a deficit of $3 billion in March compared with a deficit of nearly $6.7 billion in the same month last year as federal government revenue outpaced increased spending.

In its fiscal monitor, the Finance Department said Friday the deficit for the month shrank as revenue increased by nearly $4.6 billion to $29.1 billion, while program spending increased by almost $1.3 billion to $30.2 billion.

Public debt charges fell by nearly $400 million to $1.9 billion.

For the fiscal 2014-15 year, the government posted a preliminary surplus of $2.9 billion, compared with a deficit of $11.4 billion in 2013-14.

But the results do not include the costs related to the New Veterans Charter and the universal child care benefit that will be recorded once they receive royal assent.

The New Veterans Charter is expected to cost about $1.6 billion, while the universal child care benefit is expected to be $1.1 billion.

Once the new initiatives are accounted for and other year-end adjustments are made, the department said the government is expected to post a small deficit for 2014—15.

The federal budget last month forecast a deficit of $2 billion for the government’s 2014-15 fiscal year.

Royal Bank economist Laura Cooper noted the government is on track to achieve, if not beat, the target.

“Of note, this better fiscal performance has occurred despite the sharp drop in oil prices and indications this morning that the Canadian economy declined in the first calendar quarter of 2015,” Cooper wrote in a note to clients.

The final audited outcome for the fiscal year is expected in the fall.

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