Shomporko Desk: Meanwhile, the federal government is shutting down bricks-and-mortar Service Canada centres over concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussein said staff at the offices will instead focus on answering questions coming into call centres. Others will be available to call people directly by request to help with EI and pension applications.
The Bank of Canada also cut its key interest target by half a percentage point to 0.25 percent in an unscheduled rate announcement on Friday. The central bank said its decision to lower rates is aimed at cushioning the economic shocks from COVID-19 and a sharp drop in oil prices by easing the cost of borrowing.
Parliament’s budget watchdog is projecting that the federal deficit for the coming fiscal year could be $112.7 billion.
That’s a jump of $89.5 billion from previous forecasts as government spending climbs to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19. The report made public Friday morning also warns that the deficit for the current fiscal year, which closes March 31, could be $26.7 billion, which would be an increase of $5.5 billion compared to the budget officer’s November forecast. There were 4,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country and 39 deaths as of 6 p.m. Thursday, according to federal government statistics.