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Author Guillemette, Yvan
Source OECD iLibrary
Content type Text
Publisher OECD Publishing
Language English
Subject Domain (in DDC) Social sciences ♦ Economics
Subject Keyword Economics
Abstract Although Canada remains in an advantageous fiscal position relative to many other OECD countries as the global economy recovers from the 2008/09 recession, the deterioration in the country’s public finances has been substantial. Years of spending increases above trend economic growth have led to high structural levels of expenditure, and some Canadian governments are now on unsustainable fiscal paths, a diagnosis made starker when taking an even longer-term view that considers the fiscal implications of demographic change. Evidence shows that successful fiscal consolidations tend to rely on spending restraint rather than tax increases. When focused on restraining less productive expenditure, they can also boost economic growth. Fiscal rules can be useful tools in achieving budgetary consolidation, but also as part of the general fiscal framework to limit deficit bias and counteract the tendency shown by some Canadian governments over the past two decades to run pro-cyclical fiscal policies. Canadian governments with large deficits should announce deficit targets on the way to fiscal balance and should consider supporting these targets with spending growth limits. Other governments should also limit spending growth and target reductions in debt-to-GDP ratios, perhaps supported by budget surplus targets. Temporary fiscal stimulus measures should be allowed to expire as planned. To date, the federal and almost all provincial/territorial governments have committed to return to budget balance over the medium term and outlined plans to do so that focus primarily on expenditure restraint. These plans are broadly in line with the recommendations set forth in this paper and should allow Canada to return to budget balance over the medium term. Of crucial importance for the long-term success of fiscal-consolidation and debt-reduction strategies are public backing and transparency. The federal government should continue to support the Parliamentary Budget Office, and provinces should consider establishing similar independent fiscal agencies that can assess compliance relative to objectives and reinforce accountability. This Working Paper relates to the 2010 OECD Economic Review of Canada (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Canada).
Learning Resource Type Article
Publisher Date 2010-12-06


Source: OECD iLibrary