News / Canada

Examples of sizable federal fall fiscal and economic updates of the past

OTTAWA — The federal government's fall economic and fiscal updates typically contain little more than new batches of forecasts, however, in the past they have occasionally featured major tax and spending measures.

Here are some examples of weightier updates from recent history:

October 2000 — The document was released shortly before then-prime minister Jean Chretien called an election. The statement, described by some as a pre-election mini-budget, added to the $58 billion of tax relief over five years that had been presented in the 2000 federal budget — for a combined total of $100 billion in cuts. The document also introduced $23.4 billion in new health and social transfers to the provinces. It was dense enough to throw off the typical budgetary schedule. The next federal budget wasn't presented until December 2001.

November 2005 — With the minority Liberal government on life support, then-finance minister Ralph Goodale unveiled an autumn update that included $29 billion in promised tax cuts that Ottawa hoped would help voters forget the sponsorship scandal. The Liberals promised to give voters retroactive tax breaks totalling $5.3 billion in that fiscal year alone. At the time, Goodale maintained the update was "not a budget," insisting the decision to add tax relief to the document was only made a week earlier. Opposition parties slammed Goodale for what they called blatant electioneering.

October 2007 — The Conservative government packed this fall update with several big-ticket measures totalling almost $60 billion in personal and business tax relief over the next five years. The reductions included cutting the GST one percentage point to five per cent and dropping the lowest marginal income-tax rate to 15 per cent from 15.5 per cent — retroactive to Jan. 1, 2007. The update also called for the small-business tax rate to be reduced to 11 per cent by 2008 and for the corporate tax rate to be lowered to 15 per cent by 2012.