Freeland, Anand say feds will reallocate ‘$15 billion of savings’ to non-pandemic programs

Treasury Board President Anita Anand agreed with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland — the '$15 billion of savings' never implied less overall spending.

Freeland, Anand say feds will reallocate ‘$15 billion of savings’ to non-pandemic programs
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
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Cabinet’s pledge to find “$15 billion of savings” is a clever misdirection by the federal government, as it does not guarantee they will cut spending by $15 billion.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland clarified that “savings” meant reallocating spending to other programs, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The fiscal forecast in the budget that we tabled in the spring includes that $15 billion of savings so we could fund the programs outlined in the budget,” she said.

“How do you convince Canadians that you are serious about this?” asked a reporter. Freeland replied: “We are Liberals.”

According to the Budget 2023 document A Made In Canada Plan, federal spending is estimated at $497 billion with pledged “savings.”

The savings include spending $7.1 billion less on consulting, other professional services and travel over five years starting in 2023.

It also pegs a 3% reduction in taxpayer spending on federal agencies and departments. “This will reduce government spending by $7 billion over four years starting in 2024,” reads the budgetary document.

Also on Tuesday, Treasury Board President Anita Anand regurgitated Freeland’s remarks, stating the “$15 billion of savings” never implied less overall spending, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“I asked all of my ministerial colleagues to ensure they are examining their respective portfolios so we can deliver a budget commitment for $15 billion over five years in refocused spending,” said Anand.

“We are refocusing our spending from pandemic-type spending to the broader economic priorities of the country.”

The Finance Department expects $15 billion in reallocated spending over the next five years and an additional $4 billion afterward.

“Spending reviews have been part of previous governments, but what we are asking departments across the government to do is to look at your expenditures and determine where there is a possibility to refocus that spending,” said Anand.

According to Public Accounts, Parliament has not balanced a budget since 2007, running successive deficits that raised the federal debt past $1.1 trillion.

Federal debt interest charges are projected to rise from a pre-pandemic level of $20.4 billion to $43.9 billion this fiscal year — nearly double the national defence budget. Blacklock’s Reporter said taxpayers can expect federal charges to climb further in five years and exceed $50 billion by 2027.

“We have looked at the impact of increasing interest rates as well as the increase in the stock of debt, and we estimate that in the next four years, interest payments will probably double,” Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux testified last September 27 at the Senate banking committee.

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