The Conservative government is confirming that the 2014 budget will be focused on erasing the deficit and that new tax cuts will have to wait until the books are balanced.
In a morning speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, the federal Minister of State for Finance, Kevin Sorenson, laid out the parameters of the upcoming budget.
"Like its predecessors, Economic Action Plan 2014 will continue to focus on controlling spending and using every tax dollar as efficiently as possible," said Mr. Sorenson, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
The speech was largely focused on trumpeting the Conservative government's economic record. It also repeated recent pledges from the fall throne speech, including a promise to introduce balanced budget legislation and impose a budget freeze on federal departments.
Business groups, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, have been pushing for some form of tax break in the upcoming budget – such as a reduction in the tax rate for small business or a continuation of the hiring credit for small business.
Mr. Sorenson's speech, however, suggests that those demands may have to wait.
The minister of state said the government's plan "includes looking at further tax relief and new ways to provide support to businesses like yours, following the return to a balanced budget."
The Globe reported earlier this month that federal officials are working toward introducing a budget the week of Feb. 10, though no final decision on budget timing has been made. Mr. Sorenson's prepared speech did not comment on budget timing.
Tabling a budget earlier than normal during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi is viewed as a sign that this year's budget will be a low-key affair that will set the stage for the following year, when the Conservatives can use the 2015 budget and its expected surplus to announce tax cuts ahead of the next federal election.