Mind the gap


Kevin Page has released his latest report. The Globe got an early look and summarizes as so.

In a report released today, Parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page warns it’s not good enough for Ottawa to simply balance the books – because of the increasing squeeze Canada’s greying ranks will place on coffers.

He predicts that even if Ottawa slays the deficit, it will still have to confront an expanding “fiscal gap” in revenue over the decades ahead that rises to $20-billion to $40-billion annually within seven decades. This will arise as Canada’s work force shrinks in proportion to its growing pool of retirees, a trend that should both slow the growth of government tax revenue and increase demands for health-care spending and old-age benefits.


Mind the gap

  1. I appreciate Mr. Page’s attempt to bring this problem to light. Coyne has done a decent job, as well. We should certainly be trying to address this issue so my generation doesn’t have to pay much higher tax rates or leave the boomers eating dog food in their retirement.

    • Given what the Boomers have provided to us? The latter may be appropriate.

      • Given what the boomer have left to us? You, maybe?

      • It wan't the Boomers that went through schools in portable classrooms with combined grades. It wasn't the Boomers that graduated into a recession, and it won't be the Boomers that end up eating the dog food, because they will busy swallowing what's left of the CPP before the neglected group of Gen X'ers born right after them in 1960- 70 can get their turn.

        • True enough. I turned 18 in 1992 and smacked right into Ontario's Bob Rae recession. A nice welcome to the adult world. The only "work" I could find was $8 an hour.

          • Be glad you didnt' live in Alberta during that time. $8/hr was a damned decent wage for an 18 yr old in 1992. 5.50 was more likely.

          • I graduated from UI in 1981-2 and did my Masters of Unemployment in 92. ;-)

        • Actually, a lot of boomers graduated or started working in the middle of the oil crisis of 1973 (my case). I would imagine that boomers put their kids through university at a higher rate than the parents of boomers did. Boomers bought their first homes when interest rates were 15%, had to find their first jobs when inflation and unemployment rates were above 10%. From memory, boomers went through the 73-75 recession, then the 80 recession, the Iranian revolution brought in another one a year later, another recession at the beginning of the 90s, the .com bubble and the latest recession. I thought I would work for a company all my life and retire with a pension as a lot of our parents had done. We've had to change our attitudes, we've been downsized, benchmarked, etc. I did not go to school in a portable but in an old convent, with no heating. It was a fire trap and eventually did burn down. At home, we had a bedroom for the boys (3) and a bedroom for the girls (3). The first time I saw a dentist I was in my twenties. I hope your children, if you have any, are better off than you.

          • Why do I think of Brit comedy … "When I was young …..we didn't even HAVE a convent with no heating! ;0)

          • So sad you had a tough time. That doesn't excuse what you're leaving behind.

  2. I’m reading through the report now. That anyone thinks the PBO is anything but a fantastic use of a few million dollars a year absolutely floors me.

    • Agreed. It's a great part of Harper's legacy of accountability and transparency. They really should expand it's role rather than starving it of funds.

    • Has nobody made a meaningful attempt to "cost" the greying boomer bubble before?

  3. This seems to be yet another nail in the coffin of this gov't's reputation for fiscal probity. But i wonder when we'll get to have a serious debate on this looming dropoff? Even as an ardent defender of healthcare i can't see any way we can avoid the issue of more private investment, more leeway given for those who can afford to pay taking on more of the burden of their HC needs? We have to find a reasonable balance of allowing those with the means to fund their own care to do so, without that demand unfairly stripping resources from the majority of us who can't afford to fund our own care.

    • kcm, that debate will never happen because our politicians don't have the guts to admit that our only way out of this mess is to raises taxes.

    • kcm, that debate will never happen because nobody, politician or citizen, in this country has the guts to admit that we cannot possibly afford to send so many senior citizens through the intensive care unit on the way to the morgue, like we do proportionally now. No matter how much PolJunkie gets to raise taxes on the few remaining citizens trying to earn a living.

      • I vaguely recall reading that the portion of health care expenditures related to treating "citizens through the intensive care unit on the way to the morgue" is about 80%. Does that number seem correct to you? Better yet, have you got any links handy?

        • I don't know if it's as insane as 80%. I would hope not. What I have read a few years back was to the effect that the last month or two of a person's life was the most burdensome to the health care system's finances. And for many, that's precisely as it should be. But for many more, that is an unreasonable allocation of resources: we'll pay for a ninety-six-year-old to undergo an amputation or removal of a lobe or two of lung, or get a pacemaker. He'll die with or without it! But his four-year-old great-great-grandson with delayed speech? Two-year waiting list for therapy.

  4. The question is, which government will have the courage to do what is necessary to balance the budget? I mean, the government cuts $1-million from KAIROS and the whole country is ready to overthrow them. How can we ever cut $20-30 billion of fat if people sob at the loss of each entitlement?

    • If you think the furor over KAIROS had anything to do with the cut itself, you’re being willfully ignorant. People are outraged over the justification for the cut: that KAIROS is not pro-Israel enough. I am fine with denying funding to any organization with a political agenda, and that should include both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups. People are angered by the shameless pandering and outsourcing of Canadian foreign policy, not the amount of money cut.

      • The point is that if the government has to justify every nickel and dime it cuts, we're not really saving any money are we?

        • They could have cut it without justification or some bland justification about the organization not being a part of the government’s strategy. They turned the cut into a political football, and it blew up in their faces. I have no sympathy for them.

          • And so, enjoy the ride when the poop hits the ventilation system and the next several thousand "political footballs" line up… the whiner demographic is most certainly ready.

        • Right. Let's not worry about the justification for cuts, and simply cut every nickel and dime going to your municipality and the health care of you and your family. After all, you've indicated you won't mind.

          Don't be an idiot. Of course the government has to justify the cuts. It's not that we have no resources, but that we have limited resources, and so we need to get the best use out of what resources we have. We need to justify the cuts so that we're sure we're getting good use from our resources.

        • So that means we should zero in on the pennies for NGO's while they are lighting cigars with $1000 bills over at the offices for defence and public works procurement?

          Why go looking for controversy at all when we could save the equivalent of all the grants to all the NGO's in every department by cutting the ad budget that the Conservatives themselves crticized while in opposition?

      • "People are outraged over the justification for the cut: that KAIROS is not pro-Israel enough"

        Which people and what outrage? I would be amazed if more than 5% of Canadians have even heard of KAIROS, never mind feel outrage that government rejected their funding request.

    • "How can we ever cut $20-30 billion of fat if people sob at the loss of each entitlement?"

      All we need is one person with the power of their convictions. Current bunch of Cons can't be trusted to do anything because they have willingly shed their political beliefs because they care more about power and it's accroutements than doing anything positive for the country.

      The msm and it's desire to be useful idjits does make it more difficult to cut spending but msm does not remotely control majority of Canadians opinions. Most people think government is big enough and it's time for them to start making some hard choices instead of running deficits or increasing taxes.

      • All we need is one person with the power of their convictions.

        Oh, Baroness Thatcher, how is your health? How is your French? Any fire left in your belly to help out one of Her Majesty's dominions?

    • "The question is, which government will have the courage to do what is necessary to balance the budget?"

      You mean raise taxes?

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