Mistakes in federal budget quietly corrected online, Finance Department blames ‘typing errors’

The Department of Finance has quietly updated the online version of this year’s federal budget after several mistakes were found in the original tabled in Parliament last week — including a discrepancy of $2.2 billion.

The department chalks them up to “typing errors,” but Conservatives warn they undermine trust in the entire document.

About a dozen pages of tables listing total spending on 2019 budget initiatives have been updated online to include a handful of corrections in red text.

Conservative MP Kelly McCauley said he discovered the “serious errors” while doing a deep dive into the budget and brought them to the Parliamentary Budget Office, which then alerted the Finance Department. The PBO declined comment. A spokesman for the department denied that that is how it happened, saying the errors “were found following internal review.”

All of the errors were contained within tables tacked on to the back of the budget as part of the Liberal government’s effort to reconcile the budget with the main estimates, which MPs vote on each year to approve government spending.

Last year billions in spending for programs that were announced in the 2018 budget but not fully vetted by a Treasury Board process were stacked into a single vote, Vote 40. Conservatives decried the lump sum approval as a “slush fund,” and the Parliamentary Budget Officer issued a scathing report.