Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 30/12
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
The government’s cost-cutting measures are paying off federally but provinces, territories and cities are not doing so well, says Canada’s “budget watchdog.”
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said the Conservative government’s cutbacks will lead to a sound financial position in the long-term.
Even though government revenues are projected to slow as expenses rise for such things as health care and public pensions, most of the increased costs have been shifted to the provinces and territories, he said.
The federal government’s “sustainable fiscal position” results from recent action to limit health funding to the provinces, slashing program expenses and increasing the age of eligibility for the “Old Age Security” pension to 67 from 65 starting in 2023.
Over the next 20 years, current estimates indicate total government sector debt as a percentage of gross domestic product will fall to 31.9 percent from 53.5 percent, Page said.
One word of caution in his report was that overall debt for Canada’s three levels of government is similar to the situation in some European countries but remains many years away from becoming critical.