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Federal budget delayed until April due to falling oil prices

Finance Minister Joe Oliver stands in the House of Commons during Question on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Canada’s finance minister says he will delay tabling a budget until April because of economic uncertainty caused by tumbling oil prices.

Joe Oliver says in prepared remarks to a Calgary business crowd that the government needs to consider everything it is hearing in pre-consultation talks before finalizing its fiscal plan for the coming year.

“Given the current market instability, I will not bring forward our budget earlier than April,” Oliver says in text prepared for a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

“We need all the information we can obtain before finalizing our decisions.”

He says while low oil prices benefit consumers at the pump, they hurt the bottom line of oil companies, which leads to decreased investment and less employment. He says that in turn reduces tax revenue both provincially and federally.

“The impact of lower oil prices on the Canadian economy is complex and creates both benefits and harm.”

Oliver points out there is no consensus on how low oil prices will fall or how long they will stay there.

The last federal budget was released in mid-February 2014, while the budget in 2013 came out that March.

Oil prices are hovering around US$45 a barrel — a steep drop from the US$100 oil was bringing in last summer.

Oliver is still promising a balanced budget with no tax increases and a focus on job creation.