OTTAWA - The federal government says its preliminary deficit for the last fiscal year was $314 billion, an unprecedented figure caused by an equally unprecedented economic shock.

The early deficit figure for the 12-month period between April 2020 to March 2021 compares to a deficit of $21.8 billion over the preceding fiscal year.

The government says in its monthly fiscal monitor that the deep deficit reflects the unexpected shift in economic activity and emergency spending in response to the pandemic.

The government said in its April budget that the deficit in the last fiscal year would be $354.2 billion, a far cry from the $28.1 billion the Liberals foresaw in late 2019 months before the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada.

The government will report its final deficit figure for the 2020-2021 fiscal year in the fall, which will include end-of-year adjustments as more information rolls on things like assessed taxes.

The Finance Department says other adjustments may include over $7 billion in measures announced in the budget and contained in the budget bill currently making its way through the legislative process in the House of Commons.