Canadian Budgets & History
A short history compiled from links on the web to articles
about “Austerity in Canada“
Although the national impact of these organizations was minimal, the Depression did ultimately result in an expansion of state responsibility for the economy and for social welfare. In 1934 Bennett’s government created legislation to establish the BANK OF CANADA to regulate MONETARY POLICY; in 1935 the CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD was created to market and establish a minimum floor price for wheat; and in 1940 the federal government assumed responsibility for the unemployed by introducing a national unemployment insurance scheme (see EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE) and employment service.
Special to The New York Times
Published: February 21, 1990
Since then, Ottawa has been forced to push up interest rates again. Banks last week lifted their prime lending rate to a seven-year high of 14.25 percent. Canadian short-term interest rates are now about 5 percentage points higher than their American counterparts compared with the 1.5- to 2-point spread once considered normal.
Mr. Wilson predicted in his budget speech that the federal deficit would edge down from $25.3 billion (American) in the year ending March 31 to $23.7 billion in fiscal 1991 and $8.3 billion by 1995.
Dismantling Canada: Labor Fights Back
The government says the austerity program was necessitated by the government’s budget deficit. According to Loiselle, “these measures are made necessary by the weak state of the economy and the government’s deteriorating fiscal situation.”
The strength of the government’s commitment to sacrifice was undercut, however, when, the day before the government imposed wage restraints on public servants, 50 top executives of crown corporations and government agencies received pay increases of 4.2 percent to their six-figure salaries. Some of these increases were as much as $10,000 to $15,000, roughly the amount most low-income earners take home. And in March 1991, senior federal public service managers received salary increases as high as 10 percent.
To PSAC members, the government’s message seems to be that economic restraint need be borne only by those on the lower end of the pay scale. “The government’s offer to public servants,” asserts Gervais, “is totally unfair and an insult to our integrity.”
The camouflaged corporate agenda
The executive pay increase lends strong support to the belief that the government is wholly insincere in its position on PSAC wages and that its approach has almost nothing to do with the deficit and everything to do with trimming the public sector and breaking the union. As past budgets demonstrate, the Conservative government, along with its corporate associates, is philosophically opposed to having the public sector play an active role in the economy.
Last May, the government announced that it intended to continue “streamlining” the public service and to privatize government services. Since 1984, as the Mulroney government often boasts, “streamlining” has resulted in the elimination of more than 13,000 public sector jobs and the selling-off of 20 crown corporations and corporate holdings.
October 16, 1995
Canada’s experience with debt and deficits is an exaggerated version of America’s. Like the U.S., Canada’s public finances were once rock solid. In 1975, Canada’s national debt totaled less than 17% of GDP. But as deficit spending became an addiction after the 1981-82 recession, the debt load got bigger and bigger. Today it stands at almost 75% of GDP. (The U.S. equivalent: 52%.) Since the interest rates Canada must pay on its debt are much higher than the economy’s growth rate, it was heading straight for national bankruptcy.