The Peace Tower is seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on November 5, 2013. The federal government is writing off more than $6.3 billion in loans to businesses and students it never expects to collect. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

The federal government says it won’t collect $6.3 billion in loans, a figure fuelled by the write off of a nearly decade-old automaker bailout that the Liberals say had no hopes of being recouped.

The Liberals have written off some $3 billion in loans in each of the past two years, but they jumped past that mark in fiscal year 2017-2018.

Key to the jump was a $2.6 billion writeoff that was part of a financing package the previous Conservative government made in 2009 to keep automaker Chrysler afloat and save an estimated 52,000 Canadian jobs during the recession.

In 2011, former finance minister Jim Flaherty said taxpayers would likely never recoup the full value of the bailout when Chrysler repaid $1.7 billion provided to the restructured company, now known as Fiat Chrysler.

There was still a US$1.125 billion loan, excluding interest, sitting on the books to the “Old Chrysler” when the Liberals took office in late 2015.

The company had paid back about $238 million from its original loan, but the Liberals decided to write off the remaining principal and interest in March after officials exhausted every avenue for recovery.

International Trade Minister Jim Carr blamed the terms of the loan set out by the previous government to explain his government’s decision.

“At the time they handed out the loan, they knew it would be 100 per cent written off,” Carr said Monday.

“The ‘Old Chrysler’ did not have an opportunity to pay it back … there are no surprises here.”

READ MORE: Prime Minister pledges to ensure ‘thriving’ dairy industry post USMCA

Separate from the writeoffs, the government is also forgiving other debts to the tune of about $1.1 billion, including nearly $344 million that officials don’t expect to recover from student loan recipients.

Combined, the annual public accounts documents show the Liberals decided in the 12 months ending in March that the government wouldn’t collect $7.4 billion owed the federal treasury — a record since they took office in late 2015.

The detailed accounting documents provide an annual window into how much the government spent in the last year, what it spent money on, and just how much wasn’t spent.

Lapsed spending this year, for example, totalled $10.7 billion, but the numbers in the public accounts are not always big.

A review of the documents shows the government paid $58,803 in damages and other legal claims because of the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system that has left civil servants underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

Canada’s auditor general estimated in a report that the government owes underpaid employees some $369 million and overpaid others about $246 million. The total is $615 million worth of pay errors as of March 31, 2018.

The Phoenix fiasco was the “one significant blemish” on the government’s books for the last fiscal year, Michael Ferguson said in his audit opinion about the public accounts.

He said the number of employees affected by Phoenix pay problems has continued to grow.

“The government still has not shown signs that it has reduced the impact of pay errors coming from its transformation of pay administration, which includes the Phoenix pay system,” Ferguson wrote.

Federal books finished in the red last fiscal year as the government posted a second consecutive $19 billion deficit as overall spending across ministries, departments, agencies and Crown corporations hit $332.6 billion.

The deficit for 2017-18 was slightly smaller than what the Liberals predicted in February’s budget.

There are concerns the Liberals’ deficit-spending plan at a time of economic expansion could lead far deeper down the deficit hole in the event of a recession, fuelling criticism from the Opposition Conservatives about the lack of a road map to return to a balanced budget.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cloverdale man turns old bed racer into chicken coop

Clayton Heights’ Aaron Grim says repurposed racer ‘easy to clean and easy to collect the eggs’

U-Haul truck hits hydro pole, causes power outage in Surrey

Vehicle driving westbound on Fraser Highway

Two-vehicle crash leads to argument in South Surrey

Police investigating after one driver left the scene

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99 in South Surrey

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

Truck fire in Surrey destroys generator bound for Uganda missions trip, GoFundMe started

Glen Alexander says his ‘Jesus is Lord’ vehicle has been target of vandalism before

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

VIDEO: Highway 1 left looking like winter war zone with dozens of stranded vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

Most Read

l -->