Canada PM, pressed on budget deficit, stresses investment need

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked when his Liberal government would balance the budget, on Tuesday said he was focused on the need to make investments in the country’s economy.

Trudeau also told a news conference in Ottawa that he rejected the idea of new measures that would increase taxes on middle-class Canadians.

“We’re looking to grow the economy in ways that are going to benefit Canadians and we’re always going to be fiscally responsible in the decisions we make,” he said.

The Liberals came to power in late 2015 on a platform to run modest deficits to fund investments in the economy, promising the budget would be balanced by the 2019/20 fiscal year.

The shortfall for 2017/18 is actually predicted to be C$28.5 billion ($21.6 billion), much larger than the initial commitment, and the government has stopped talking about when it will eliminate the deficit.

Trudeau said the government would continue to “focus on what Canadians need” such as investments in public transit, in innovation and support for workers.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama