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Home Policy Articles: Fiscal & Budgetary

Fiscal policy refers to the policies and priorities of governments in raising and spending taxpayers' money - and the impact of those policies on the economy as a whole. Fiscal policies are expressed through the budgetary processes of governments - the detailed plans and operations for raising and spending money. By deciding where and how to spend money, budgetary policies help to define the priorities of government. Fiscal policies are also used by Canadian governments as vehicles for economic stabilization, the promotion of economic growth and wealth creation, and the redistribution of income.



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A Proposal for Restructuring the Universal Child Care Benefit popular

In this brief paper, Richard Zuker proposes restructuring the Conservative Party’s Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). Zuker’s proposal is intended to address some criticisms of the program. According to the author, the UCCB has been criticized at the policy framework and design levels.

Measuring child benefits: Measuring child poverty popular

Michael Mendelson studies the child benefits provided by the federal government to Canadian families.

Will We Rise to the Challenge? Eight Mega Issues Facing Canada popular

This briefing tracks eight key trends that are having a major impact on Canada’s business and public policy environment. Charles Barrett and Anne Golden point to the global economy and the consequences of competition from developing countries. They examine Canada’s relationship with the United States and the competing priorities of defence and trade. They also look at the need for investment in human capital and innovation for Canada to compete on the global stage, as well as the importance of addressing climate change and environmental issues.

2002 Comparison of Effective Residential Property Tax Levels in Major Canadian Cities

In this Frontier Centre paper Peter Holle and Daniel Klymchuk compare property tax levels in major Canadian cities, using the data to evaluate the relative residential tax burden in Winnipeg. Any comparison of taxation levels between jurisdictions is troublesome, the authors note, because differing economic conditions may distort the effects of taxation. To overcome this problem Holle and Klymchuk use effective property tax rates (rates relative to market value) and absolute tax burdens (utility charges, taxes relative to income and taxation per square foot) to make their comparisons.

2002-03 Ontario Alternative Budget

Following the 2002-03 Government of Ontario budget, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released its Ontario Alternative Budget. The Alternative Budget asserts public spending on programs and capital improvements has dropped 15.1 percent under seven years of Conservative governments in Ontario. In addition, it is suggested that the Government of Ontario has wiped out a “substantial portion” of its revenue base through tax cuts, choosing to reduce taxes before balancing the provincial budget.

2003-2004 Saskatchewan Alternative Budget of Choice: A Budget for Communities, By Communities

In this Alternative Budget of Choice, the CCPA analyzes the Government’s own budget, all sources of revenue (including tax policy), and expenditures. It then makes recommendations for alternative ways to manage the Province’s finances.

2004-2005 Saskatchewan Alternative Budget of Choice: A Budget for Equity

Each year the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) releases the Saskatchewan Alternative Budget of Choice in partnership with all of the communities affected by the provincial government’s budgetary decisions. The Alternative Budget is intended as a tool to influence government decisions, as well as an educational tool for community organizations.

2006 Manitoba Alternative Budget: Investing in Tomorrow, Today

Even though there have been positive signs in the Manitoban economy, this paper cautions that problems lie ahead: a) a growing gap between rich and poor; b) the inequality between women and men in income; c) poor environmental policy; d) a growing concern for farmers; e) a failing health care system; and f) a crumbling urban infrastructure.

A Decade of TABOR - Ten Years After: Analysis of Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights

In this article, Fred Holden analyzes the Colorado TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights), a tax-and-spending limitation, constitutional amendment. Passed by voters in 1992, TABOR is meant to “reasonably restrain most of the growth of government.”

A Funny Way of Sharing: Revisiting the Liberal Government's "50:50" Promise

This technical paper accompanies the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) Alternative Federal Budget 2003. In this report, the CCPA points out that, during the 1997 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Chrétien promised that future fiscal dividends resulting from the elimination of the deficit would be divided in half.

A Time for Vision: A Sustainable & Equitable Economy

The Alberta government’s 2005 budget will be the first since the provincial debt was eliminated. According to the Parkland Institute’s Committee on Alberta’s Finances, this budget should lay the foundations for a vision to build a socially sustainable and equitable economy. 2005...

A Time to Reap: Re-investing In Alberta's Public Services

The Parkland Institute's Committee on Alberta's Finances prepared this report. The authors contend the Alberta government is stuck in yesterday’s rhetoric of debt crisis. 2004...

A Time to Reap; Re-investing in Alberta's Public Services

This report advocates improving the many public service areas that were subject to budget cuts a decade ago in the interests of improving Alberta's debt. With extensive empirical evidence the study considers the advantageous position of Alberta's economy and financial situation as well as the social conditions that have been created by budget cutbacks. Finally this report points to a lack of accountability of government expenditures and makes recommendations to improve specific public services.

A Working Income Tax Benefit That Works

In 2005, the federal government’s mini-budget contained a Working Income Tax Benefit proposal that would give low-income earners a cash supplement to bolster their wages. Ken Battle and Michael Mendelson welcome this proposal, arguing that it could help reduce poverty and remove barriers to employment.

Alternative Federal Budget 2003: Economic and Fiscal Update

Each year a coalition of community, social advocacy and labour organizations work together to produce the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s Alternative Federal Budget. The 2003 version argues that the federal government’s fiscal situation is much more positive than suggested by federal officials and private sector forecasters. The Alternative Federal Budget claims the federal surplus for 2003 is in excess of $10 billion, and calls into question the credibility of other projections for what the report contends to be a consistent underestimation of this figure. Additionally, the publication claims federal fiscal capacity, represented by revenues as a share of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), has declined due to reduced taxation levels. The Alternative Federal Budget 2003 concludes by calling for the immediate halt and reversal of federal government tax cuts.

Alternative Federal Budget 2003: The Cure for the Common Budget

Annually, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) publishes an Alternative Federal Budget. Its purpose: to bring together community groups to discuss and debate government spending priorities, and to provide an alternative view of the federal government’s fiscal framework.

Alternative Federal Budget 2004: Fiscal and Economic Update

This paper is a brief update on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) annual project, the Alternative Federal Budget. The Alternative Federal Budget is prepared by a coalition of community, labour, environmental, and social advocacy organizations, and outlines the broad policy options that will shape the budget-making process.

Alternative Federal Budget 2004: Rebuilding the Foundations

Since 1995, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has released an annual Alternative Federal Budget to coincide with the federal government’s budget. The CCPA’s goal has always been to show there are alternatives to government decisions – and that a credible plan of social reinvestment exists for using huge federal government surpluses.

Alternative Federal Budget 2005: Fiscal and Economic Update

Each year the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) prepares the Alternative Federal Budget in partnership with a coalition of community, labour, environmental, and social advocacy organizations. While the 2005 Alternative Federal Budget will be released in February, this brief report summarizes current thinking of Alternative Federal Budget participants regarding the present fiscal situation facing the federal government.

Alternative Federal Budget 2005: It’s Time

Every year since 1995, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has released an Alternative Federal Budget. According to the CCPA, budgets are not merely financial documents: they are the clearest statement of a government’s actual priorities, stripped of the rhetoric of election promises and Throne Speeches. The Alternative Federal Budget begins with the premise that budgets should first be about the people; a budget is an exercise in popular economic education and a process for Canadians to develop consensus on what the federal budget would look like if public interests were truly being served.

Alternative Provincial Budget (Manitoba) 2002-2003

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Manitoba Alternative Provincial Budget 2002-2003 makes community economic development its top priority. To this end, the Alternative Budget proposes a number of measures: making Manitoba less vulnerable to downturns in the US economy by putting more money into the provincial economy; investing in services rather than tax cuts; eliminating Manitoba’s balanced budget legislation; and, solving the structural fiscal deficit the authors label as Manitoba’s ‘revenue problem.’ Additionally, the Alternative Budget puts a special emphasis on health care, proposing a plan for what the authors term “a better and more sustainable health care system.”

Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2002/2003

This survey, authored by Liv Fredricksen, presents a “report card” to governments regarding their mining policies. It takes into account several public policy factors, including taxation, regulation, labour issues and political stability, and then measures the effect of these factors on “attracting and winning investments.” The survey covers 45 jurisdictions, including all of Canada, numerous US states, as well as several other countries. Several Canadian jurisdictions finished near the top of the index, with Alberta taking the highest ranking. British Columbia finished last within Canadian jurisdictions, tying Russia with a score of 23 out of a possible 100.

Anyone Got a Plan?

As a result of Hurricane Katrina, governments worldwide have scrutinized their emergency response plans for natural disasters. However, Michael Mendelson cautions, they have failed to plan for another type of emergency: an economic slump likely to happen within the next two to three years.

Are business subsidies efficient?

Nathalie Elgrably begins her economic note by explaining several categories of subsidies to business: 1) direct subsidies in the form of unconditional or conditional transfers; 2) tax expenditures, which are tax advantages such as exemptions, deductions, lower tax rates, and refundable or non-refundable tax credits; 3) interest-free or low-interest loans; 4) loan guarantees; 5) financial involvement in a commercial company through shares or units; and, 6) non-monetary assistance such as consulting services.

Assessing Prince Edward Island's Fiscal Situation

This paper assesses Prince Edward Island’s fiscal situation. Wimal Rankaduwa and John Jacobs point out that PEI, along with most other provinces, must reassess its financial situation.

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