Alberta floods push federal deficit to $3.8B

The gap between how much the federal government spends versus how much it takes in went further into the red in September, in part because of costs related to the devastating Alberta floods.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's office says budget will still be balanced in 2015

Floods devastated many Alberta communities this past June, and the federal government spent billions to help with cleanup efforts. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

The gap between how much the federal government spends versus how much it takes in went further into the red in September, in part because of costs related to the devastating Alberta floods.

The deficit increased to $3.8 billion in September, the Finance Department said in a release Friday.

That's up from $2.2 billion in the same month a year earlier. Ottawa was actually on track to have a smaller deficit, but the floods that devastated much of Alberta this summer changed that.

To help clean up after the floods that started on June 20, Ottawa recorded a $2.8-billion liability for disaster assistance in September. That setback was partially offset by the $700 million the government took in from selling 30 million GM shares that same month.​

"Absent the impact of these two one-time factors, the deficit for September 2013 would have been $1.7 billion," the finance department noted in a release.

The government saw a revenue jump during the month, taking in $21.1 billion more in tax revenues, an increase of almost 11 per cent. But that was more than offset by an almost 20 per cent increase in expenses to $22.5 billion.

For the cumulative April-to-September fiscal period, Ottawa's running a $10.7-billion deficit. For the same period last year, the deficit was smaller, at $9.4 billion.

"The government remains on track to balance the budget in 2015," the Finance Department said in the release.

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