OECD Economics Department Working Papers

ISSN :
1815-1973 (online)
DOI :
10.1787/18151973
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Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

 

Fiscal-Consolidation Strategies for Canadian Governments You or your institution have access to this content

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Author(s):
Yvan Guillemette1
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

Publication Date
06 Dec 2010
Bibliographic information
No.:
818
Pages
50
DOI
10.1787/5km36j7nc2g4-en

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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).
Keywords:
Canada, provincial, budgets, consolidation, debt, federal, fiscal, deficit
JEL Classification:
  • E62: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook / Fiscal Policy
  • H68: Public Economics / National Budget, Deficit, and Debt / Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt
  • H77: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations / Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism; Secession