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Chrystia Freeland raises federal borrowing limit to record $517 billion

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By a cabinet order, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, has allowed herself to escalate federal borrowing in the current fiscal year to a record $517 billion. This amount surpasses the previous estimate for the year concluding on March 31 by $73 billion.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, through an order dated February 15 under the Financial Administration Act, Freeland defined $517 billion as the “maximum aggregate principal amount of money that may be borrowed” before April 1, up from the previous limit of $444 billion. No reason was given for this change.

Freeland previously testified at the Commons finance committee, stating, “The increase in the borrowing authority is in no way a blank cheque. Every single expenditure by the government needs to be authorized by Parliament.”

In 2021, Parliament augmented the federal debt ceiling by 56%, from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion, under the Borrowing Authority Act, stated Blacklock’s.

Conservative MP Ed Fast raised concerns, accusing Freeland of seeking a “blank cheque” and implying a lack of transparency. Freeland countered this assertion, emphasizing that the increased borrowing authority is a “transparent and open authorization of a level up to which the government may borrow.”

Referring to statements made during a 2020 Commons debate, Freeland stressed the absence of “blank cheques” and “free lunches.”

Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre questioned whether there was a specific dollar figure limiting the debt, to which Freeland replied, “We are mindful that limits exist.”

During a testimony before the Senate national finance committee on February 13, Budget Officer Yves Giroux expressed uncertainty about the government’s plans and emphasized the need to wait and see.

When asked about the realism of the borrowing limit by Senator Elizabeth Marshall, Giroux stated that it “looks sufficient” but acknowledged the government’s desire to maintain flexibility in case unforeseen events require additional borrowing on short notice.



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