Canada trims budget deficit, ups debt-to-GDP figures for 2017/18

Shipping containers are picture in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

(Reuters) - Canada’s finance ministry on Friday released final figures for the 2017/18 fiscal year and said the budget deficit was slightly smaller than initially forecast, while the debt-to-GDP ratio had edged up.

The budget deficit for 2017/18 was C$19.0 billion ($14.5 billion), down from the previous stated estimate of C$19.4 billion. Due to accounting changes, Ottawa revised the previous estimate, which it now says should have been C$19.9 billion.

The changes, which will increase the size of the debts that the ministry reports, are designed to ensure the government can more accurately estimate future pension obligations.

The changes mean the final federal 2017/18 debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is 31.3 percent, up from an initial estimate of 30.4 percent.

The Liberal government predicts the ratio will fall to 28.4 per cent in the 2022/23 fiscal year.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa