Evaluation of federal transfers to the provinces

The federal equalization program and per-capita block grants such as the Canada Health Transfer and Canada Social Transfer have their critics. But equalization helps to prevent outmigration from “have-not” provinces, and block grants in effect substitute federal taxes for less efficient provincial ones. Read this articleEvaluation of federal transfers to the provinces

A new tool to understand Canada’s fiscal sustainability

A new tool from Finances of the Nation helps make sense of the long-term fiscal future of Canada’s federal government. Under several reasonable scenarios, the government’s finances are sound. But under others, concerns around long-run sustainability may mount. Read this articleA new tool to understand Canada’s fiscal sustainability

Does the Canada Workers Benefit enhancement achieve its purpose?

The CWB increases supports lower-income workers, and recent enhancements have made it more generous. The change also allows for the addition of new beneficiaries, which is particularly important for dual-earning couples. However, the reform also increased the effective tax on earned income for some workers, and therefore potentially lowers the incentive to work. This is especially notable for couples with children where two spouses work. Read this articleDoes the Canada Workers Benefit enhancement achieve its purpose?

Will federal finances improve this year?

The ongoing recovery from COVID has been stronger than many suspected and many emergency support programs have ended. Using the latest federal Fiscal Monitor data, we explore revenue and expense trends. We present a simple forecasting model to project revenue, expense and the federal deficit to the end of the fiscal year. Read this articleWill federal finances improve this year?

Debt Aversion in Canada Since the 1980s: Are things about to change?

For the past 35 years, debt aversion has been an organizing principle of Canada’s federal fiscal policy. This commentary demonstrates the fact of fiscal policy continuity focused on debt aversion since the 1980s and asks whether the current surge in debt is simply an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession or the beginning of a new era of fiscal policy that is markedly less focused on avoiding debt. Read this articleDebt Aversion in Canada Since the 1980s: Are things about to change?

An Employment Insurance system for the 21st century: Lesson 1, Big shocks matter

This is the first commentary in a three-part series examining ideas for reforming Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program. This commentary argues that the program as presently constituted is not well-designed to provide adequate support for households that suffer large and enduring negative income shocks. Read this articleAn Employment Insurance system for the 21st century: Lesson 1, Big shocks matter

Overcompensation of Income Losses: A Major Flaw in Canada’s Pandemic Response

The federal government has overcompensated Canadians for their lockdown-related income losses. The amount of money involved is substantial. Although overcompensation does not seem to have been a policy objective at the outset, it has been embraced. This expensive flaw in Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic compromises fairness and limits options for using fiscal policy to strengthen the recovery. Read this articleOvercompensation of Income Losses: A Major Flaw in Canada’s Pandemic Response

Tax, Spend, Repeat: 55 Years of Public Finance Data for Canada

Today, Finances of the Nation releases an updated and expanded version of its Government Revenue, Expenditure, Assets and Liabilities (REAL) data. Covering 55 fiscal years from 1965/66 to 2019/20, the REAL data give a detailed picture of the finances of federal, provincial, and territorial governments in Canada. Read this articleTax, Spend, Repeat: 55 Years of Public Finance Data for Canada

Is Canada’s Federal Debt a Cause for Concern?

Canada’s federal deficit is currently forecasted to be $343 billion in fiscal year 2020-21, or more than 15% of gross domestic product (GDP). Not surprisingly, this deficit and the associated accumulation of debt is attributable to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal budget deficits are, however, expected to continue well beyond 2020. This commentary discusses how we should think about the federal government’s debt, and what perspective we should take that may be different from how we are used to thinking about other kinds of debt. Read this articleIs Canada’s Federal Debt a Cause for Concern?