07/15/2015 12:17 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 01:12 EDT

Harper's office attacks Mulcair, Trudeau after rate cut by Bank of Canada

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is trying to turn bad economic news to its political advantage as the Bank of Canada outlines a gloomy financial forecast for the rest of the year.

The central bank has cut its key interest rate to 0.5 per cent from 0.75 per cent, citing slow economic growth through the first half of the year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office is using the cut to warn voters that now is not the time to take "unnecessary risks" by electing the NDP or Liberals in the fall.

The Conservatives have attacked the economic management credentials of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau over the past few weeks as upheaval in Europe, a slide in oil prices and a financial slowdown in China have hit the government's bottom line.

Despite the dismal economic forecast, Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the government remains focused on balancing the budget this year and providing billions in universal child care benefits to millions of families.

The government is providing almost $3 billion worth of child care payments to parents across the country, which the Bank of Canada considers to be stimulus spending.

The Canadian Press