Conservative Leader Stephen Harper suggested this morning that the federal government's budget is going to be tight for the next two years, telling people at an event in Toronto that a tax credit he's promising if he is re-elected wouldn't be implemented until midway into that mandate.
Harper and other Conservatives have so far maintained the 2015-16 budget will be balanced.
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But answering questions about a new campaign pledge to reintroduce a home renovation tax credit, Harper said Tuesday it wouldn't be introduced right away.
"We're targeting this for mid-mandate. I think if you look at the fiscal track, we'll have that fiscal room. But we'll be sure that it's affordable and sustainable before we bring it in," Harper said.
"This is how we have framed all of our platforms. We did so in the last election. We make our commitments, we promise to deliver them over the course of the mandate, to deliver them in a way that is affordable for the long term."
In 2011, the Conservatives made a number of promises contingent on a balanced budget and only introduced them ahead of the 2015-16 budget.
But a number of experts, including the parliamentary budget officer, are projecting a deficit for this year based on lower-than-expected gross domestic product.
The budget officer is projecting a $1-billion deficit and a $600-million surplus in 2016-17.
Conservatives put focus on economy
The program would provide a 15 per cent tax credit for $1,000 to $5,000 worth of renovations or permanent alterations to a dwelling or the land on which it sits, according to background information provided by the Conservatives. The credit would be renewable each year, but wouldn't necessarily come into effect right away because the Conservatives are making it contingent on the government's finances.
The Conservatives estimate the credit would cost the government $1.5 billion a year. They say three million Canadians took advantage of the credit when it was first introduced in 2009 as a temporary measure and that it was worth an average of $700 a household.
Harper made the announcement alongside Eglinton-Lawrence candidate Joe Oliver on day three of the federal election campaign.
It was Harper's second economic policy announcement in two days. In Laval, Que., on Monday, he pledged to increase and extend a tax credit for businesses that hire apprentices.
The Conservatives prefer to focus on the economy, and what they say is the NDP and Liberals' inability to manage the Canadian economy.
The NDP and Liberals point to the current downturn to argue the Conservatives have done a bad job of managing it.
New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair said Harper has been getting the economy wrong for 10 years.
"We want to help the job creators do just that — create more jobs. Because under Stephen Harper, the jobs that are being created are mostly part-time, precarious, low-paid jobs," he said.
Speaking in Mississauga, Ont., on Tuesday morning, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Harper likes to talk about international economic uncertainty, but takes credit when things go well.
"The fact of the matter is Canadians have had enough of the 10 years of Stephen Harper experience that we've gone through," he said.