NEWS

NDP calls for 'immediate' update on nation's finances

01/26/2015 10:45 EST | Updated 03/28/2015 05:59 EDT
In the wake of Finance Minister Joe Oliver's unexpected decision to delay his pre-election budget until April at the earliest, the New Democrats want him to update the House on the state of the nation's finances.

New Democrat Finance critic Nathan Cullen told reporters that his party intends to devote the first allotted opposition day to a motion calling on the Conservatives to "immediately present" an updated fiscal and economic forecast — one that would take into account what the NDP describes as "the unstable economic situation, including job losses, falling oil prices, and declining government revenues."

The motion would also instruct Oliver to ensure the budget "addresses the economic challenges faced by the middle class" by creating more full-time jobs while encouraging economic diversification.

Cullen said his party will also propose that both Oliver and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz be invited to appear before the House finance committee to share their views on the state of the Canadian economy.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver said earlier this month he won't deliver a budget before April due to instability caused by falling oil prices.

Last week, after a spate of bank reports warning of a downturn in the economy, the Bank of Canada cut its key lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point and predicted slower economic growth.

Today, a report from TD Economics predicted oil prices would continue to fall, pulling down growth in the short term, and said another interest rate cut is likely in March.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan also hit the microphones in the House of Commons Foyer on Monday morning. 

He affirmed the Conservatives will balance the budget this spring despite plummeting oil revenue and a weakening economy, and said the $3-billion contingency fund could be used to make that happen.

"Obviously yes, it becomes applied to the bottom line. If it's not spent on other things, it returns to the bottom line for the government," Van Loan said.

The debate on the NDP motion is expected to take place on Tuesday, which is the first scheduled supply day of the winter sitting.

The Liberals will get their own opportunity to set the Commons agenda on Thursday.

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