A new poll suggests Canadians are terribly conflicted over the idea of the federal government pulling back COVID-19 spending in order to control the ballooning deficit that would impact the country down the line.
The Liberals last week revealed this year’s projected deficit sits at $343 billion, driven by an estimated $231.9 billion in COVID-19 spending, so far, and a massive drop in government revenue.
Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies asked 1,523 Canadians whether they felt the government ought to immediately and quickly begin to scale back pandemic support programs to Canadians and to business.
Forty-one per cent said yes to that question, 44 per cent said no and 15 per cent said they didn’t know or preferred not to answer.
As of July 6, the wage subsidy had paid out $18.01 billion to 252,370 companies. Last week’s fiscal and economic update from the Liberals increased the overall budget to $82.3 billion.
The other marquee support program, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, is set to expire in the fall.
The $500-a-week benefit had, as of July 5, paid out almost $54.8 billion to 8.25 million people.
Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit and how it may affect things in Canada in the long term.
In releasing the deficit projections, the Liberals didn’t set out a plan for how or when they might get the books back to balance.
The survey asked respondents which of two routes traditionally use to cut deficits they would support.
In the survey, 60 per cent said the government ought to focus on cutting government spending, while 21 per cent said the focus should be on raising taxes.
In such uncertain times, it is hard for anyone to say anything with much certainty.