The Canadian government disclosed Thursday that the economy would show a negative growth of 4.4 percent this year, one of the most disappointing performances in recent history and worse than had been forecast only a few months ago. In June, the government said the gross national product in 1982 would be down just 2 percent.
Monitor contributor David Milne reports that in a bleak economic statement to Parliament, Marc Lalonde, federal finance minister, also said Ottawa's budgetary deficit in the year ending next March 31 would hit $18 billion, compared with a deficit of $8 billion predicted a year ago.
The finance minister predicted little relief from inflation, now running about 10 percent, and said the unemployment rate would remain at the current record level of 12 percent through next year.
But Mr. Lalonde showed that his government intends to combat that gloomy jobless figure. He said, ''We must not abandon the victims of the recession in the mistaken belief that such callous action might speed our recovery.'' With that statement he announced the government's intention to spend $416 million to create 60,000 jobs over the next 18 months.
He added that a similar amount would be put aside to boost the stagnant housing industry and develop Canada's railroads.
Responding to business complaints about earlier government tax measures, Mr. Lalonde also announced he would roll back a number of planned tax increases. Ottawa also intends to trim $1 billion planned spending on energy, defense, and foreign aid in the next two fiscal years.