Today's discussion:

Canada’s two richest provinces are playing with fiscal fire

The risks both provinces are taking in increasing their spending are choices that they have the luxury of making. Each province has a strong economy and fiscal capacity. But we should be clear about what those choices are and recognize that neither is a particularly prudent approach.

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Joseph Ingram

I am surprised at the incompleteness of Prof Tombe’s analysis. His focus on spending and debt are only half the story – something a public policy specialist should be intimately familier with. To avoid the scent of political partisanship, he should also have analyzed what the expenditures are intended for. Are they largely capital investments with robust economic rates of return, or subsidies for fossil fuel investments with huge negative externalities and high environmental (and damage costs to victims of wildfires and uninsurable assets), or for operating expenditures paying high salaries for staff and infrastructure maintanance? I would have expected better from an academic economist!

7th March 2024 at 9:26 am
George R Hinchliffe

We have a huge problem in BC because we have a Government blinded by its own fanatical ideology and no matter how much evidence shows how wrong they are they refuse to see it. They continue to trample on our rights and are spending us into the poorhouse. Our only hope is the election and a change in Government but with United and Conservatives splitting the vote it looks like we are heading for another NDP majority. We are Doomed.

7th March 2024 at 9:07 am
A. Chezzi

I usually find myself in disagreement with many of the opinions in various articles but today here is one in which I find common ground with the author. “The bottom line is that Albertans, like all Canadians, get well when we invest in safe and affordable homes, living wages, quality child care and schools, and a healthy environment—even more urgently than we invest in medical care. Alberta used to follow this prescription decades ago. The Smith government would be wise to return to it.” The question is, how do we get all parties to work together and find solutions because no one party has all the answers.

7th March 2024 at 8:09 am
Kim Morton

Every time BC has had the misfortune to have a socialist government, we have precariously balanced on the edge of bankruptcy before finally voting them out. Lately, the NDP have been spending like drunken sailors on short shore leave. Even the 20 something new and improved taxes have not been enough to sustain their spending. Worse, much of that money is poorly spent. We spend hundreds of millions of money enabling drug users and buying them drugs, while working people with diabetes are forced to buy their own medications. Then our government actively discourages resource industries, which is where the real money is made, in favour of more social workers and building expensive houses for rich retirees from elsewhere.Then comes the long, hard struggle of not only balancing the books, but convincing businesses BC is worthy of investment again. Until the next time.

7th March 2024 at 10:32 am
Michael F

Another post filled with misinformation. BC has programs for lower income people to help with prescription drug costs. It’s based on income.

7th March 2024 at 11:27 am

All provinces are facing demographic realities that are going to make it more and more expensive just to run in place, at the same time as needing to deal with historic challenges like climate change. The challenges of population aging on healthcare are obvious. It will cost more to maintain the same standard of care. The challenges of the supposed solution to population aging are less obvious. Population growth is expensive, not a free lunch, and expanding public infrastructure to accommodate a larger population eats into the benefits of a larger tax base. This shows up somewhat in BC’s record levels of capital spending. Governments face difficult trade-offs: maintain spending even when that leads to congested infrastructure or declining services, raise an unprecedented amount of revenue, accumulate debt, or let those demographic challenges cut into investment in the future and spending on other age groups.

7th March 2024 at 8:54 am
Paul Attics

As usual, conservative parties seem to accrue the reputation as fiscally responsible and NDP accrue the reputation of unconstrained spending. This may be true in the typical rhetoric but it is not in the historical reality of governing parties.
Party and ideological affiliation tells one little about fiscal responsibility in practice.
Great data rich analysis!

7th March 2024 at 7:45 am

Alberta needs a government with the guts to implement a consumption tax that would free Albertans from the boom and bust cycle.

7th March 2024 at 1:58 pm