Freeland grilled over cost of pandemic aid as House fast-tracks rent relief bill

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was grilled Thursday over the mounting cost of providing relief programs to help Canadians and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a four-hour question-and-answer session in the House of Commons, Freeland refused to provide any new numbers about the size of this year’s deficit, the overall federal debt or the potential ballooning cost of servicing that debt should record-low interest rates begin to rise.

She told MPs that those projections would come in a fiscal update later this fall, not before. She declined to set a date for that update.

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was grilled Thursday over the mounting cost of providing relief programs to help Canadians and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a four-hour question-and-answer session in the House of Commons, Freeland refused to provide any new numbers about the size of this year’s deficit, the overall federal debt or the potential ballooning cost of servicing that debt should record-low interest rates begin to rise.

She told MPs that those projections would come in a fiscal update later this fall, not before. She declined to set a date for that update.

I don’t think the minister has given a single number with regards to any of these questions,

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre complained at one point during a series of sharp exchanges with Freeland.

She won’t tell us the limits on the debt, she won’t tell us how much the Bank of Canada has printed to fund her government’s debt, she won’t tell us whether the debt will be paid back before interest rates rise. Is there anything mathematical or numerical that anyone on the government side can share with the Canadian taxpayers who will have to repay that debt?

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