The CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said he would have liked to see more efforts to attract private sector economic investment in the federal Liberals’ 2023 $491-billion spending plan unveiled Tuesday.

Perrin Beatty spoke with BNN Bloomberg immediately after the budget was tabled in Ottawa, which showed a deficit set to reach $43 billion this year. It said the government plans to ramp up spending over the next five years and no longer expects to balance its books by 2027-28.

Beatty said he would have liked to see more attention paid in the budget to “unlocking private sector capital” to encourage growth in Canada as the government tries to balance fiscal responsibility with spending priorities.

“The federal government can’t borrow our way to prosperity. It's writing cheques on a bank account that is already overdrawn,” Beatty said in a television interview on Tuesday afternoon.

“We need to have a laser focus on unlocking potential in private sector.”

While the government’s budget focused on specific sectors, particularly clean technology in an effort to remain competitive with the U.S., Beatty said he was also looking out for “a major effort on regulatory reforms,” and efforts to close labour skills gaps, which weren’t immediately apparent from the first budget headlines.

“It's mixed signals so far,” he said.