Top Finance Official Quits After Government Unveils Record Budget Deficit

The top bureaucrat at Canada’s finance ministry announced his departure a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled a record budget deficit amid continued emergency Covid-19 spending.

Deputy Finance Minister Paul Rochon said his last day will be on December 14. He is the fourth major economic policy maker in the country to leave his or her post this year as politicians continue to spend at an unprecedented rate to lessen the impacts of Covid-19.

Rochon has been a finance department veteran for nearly three decades and served in a number of senior positions before his appointment to deputy minister in 2014. The deputy minister is the country’s third most important federal economic policy maker after the Finance Minister and Bank of Canada Governor.

Rochon’s departure will take place only five days after his counterpart at the Bank of Canada, Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins, steps down from her post. Former Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigned in August after a rift with Trudeau became public. The prime minister named Chrystia Freeland in his place and pledged to keep the spending taps open through the global pandemic.

In a fiscal update earlier this week, Trudeau’s government projected a budget deficit of $381.6 billion, or 17.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

The top job at the Bank of Canada has also changed hands during the Covid-19 crisis, with Governor Tiff Macklem taking over from Stephen Poloz in June. Last month, Wilkins announced her plans to leave the central bank on December 9, ahead of the end of her seven-year term.