Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario Premier named worst fiscal manager

VANCOUVER: British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell ranks as the best of 10 provincial premiers at fiscal policy management, according to a new study released by the Fraser Institute.

The peer-reviewed study, Measuring the Fiscal Performance of Canada’s Premiers, ranks Campbell first overall with a score of 89.1 out of 100. Former Manitoba premier Gary Doer ranked second with 78.2. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams scored 71.0 and ranked third. Premiers Ed Stelmach of Alberta (66.4) and Brad Wall of Saskatchewan (57.9) followed in fourth and fifth positions respectively.

Of the remaining premiers, only Québec Premier Jean Charest (53.7) scored above 50.0. Three of the four remaining premiers were from Atlantic Canada: Rodney MacDonald, former premier of Nova Scotia (33.7), Shawn Graham, former premier of New Brunswick (33.2), and Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island (30.0). Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty ranked last overall with a score of 29.7.

The institute studied relative fiscal performance of 10 Canadian premiers for the duration of their time in office up to this year, covering government spending, taxes and debt/deficits.

“In a world of increasing competitiveness, sound fiscal policy is a critical determinant of long-term economic success, so it’s important that provincial premiers show leadership by prioritizing, rather than simply increasing, existing government resources. They must ensure balanced budgets and focus on improving incentives for individuals and businesses to engage in productive economic activity,” said Niels Veldhuis, Fraser Institute senior economist and co-author.

Government Spending

Campbell ranked first on the government spending component with a perfect score of 100. Only three other premiers scored above 50.0: Doer (85.5), Charest (81.7), and Williams (61.2). The remaining six premiers each scored below 50.0 with McGuinty scoring 29.8, good for seventh place on this measure.

“Campbell managed the growth in government spending in a relatively sustainable manner and ran a particularly tight fiscal ship during his first term in office,” said Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute senior policy analyst and study co-author.

“At the other end of the spectrum, McGuinty took a spendthrift approach, increasing Ontario’s government spending by more than three times the rate of economic growth. As a result, Ontario’s size of government increased to 20.8 per cent of GDP in 2009/10 from 16.2 per cent in 2003/04.”

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