Concerned about the federal debt? Look at the provinces.

Provincial debt now makes up nearly half of Canada’s total red ink


Worried about the federal debt? There is actually a lot more to fret about when looking at provincial and territorial public coffers. Red ink spilled by Ottawa used make up 62 per cent of  government debt two decades ago–now it accounts for only about a third of the total, as provincial and territorial debt ballooned from 34 to 47 per cent. Even local governments have been adding a weighty bit to our overall public debt burden: Their share went up from two to eight per cent in 20 years. On the other hand, while the proportion of public debt tied to the CPP and QPP swelled up considerably between 1991 and 2001–from two to twenty per cent–it now accounts for a relatively contained 12 per cent of the total.



*Source: Statistics Canada.

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Concerned about the federal debt? Look at the provinces.

  1. I would be very curious how this would break down by province. I am betting the lion’s share of the problem has come from Ontario and Quebec.

    • And bear in mind, that when Martin downloaded on Provinces, Provinces – i.e. the Harris PC government in Ontario, downloaded on cities. The biggest portion of city budgets now are EMS, Fire and Police services, all forbidden to strike, by that same government, and bound to binding arbitration which sets everyone pay at high provincial levels.

  2. Now people have gone too far the other way, and fret about debt too much.

  3. And if there was any information about transfer payments in those graphs, they might almost be useful.

  4. As Thwim said, some idea of transfers would be good, and the thickness of the ring should be set to the actual total value over the three periods, so as to compare actual federal income from taxes.

  5. This isn’t much of a surprise as the Chretien Liberals started offloading Federal spending to the provinces just after 1991.

  6. i keep writing letters to city council in Edmonton, these idiots just keep raising taxes fines and fees and also keep hiring people.. live within your means cut back . we have to pay for all this crap !

    they run out of money and they put 20 more photo radar camera’s on the road….

  7. These ratios don’t really mean anything without looking at the absolute dollar figures for each of those donut slices (adjusted back to 1991 dollars, of course).  For all we know, the total debt for all of those entities has decreased, but the feds are ahead of the curve because of Paul Martin’s habit of downloading costs to the provinces and municipalities.

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