Scott Feschuk’s guide to complex federal budget lingo

Those budget terms are much more exciting than they sound. Here’s a translation.



Because of all the complex terminology, reading about this week’s federal budget sure can be taxing. (Ladies and gentlemen: wordplay!) Lucky for you, I’ve spent the past several years compiling and refining a helpful guide that translates all that wonky budget lingo.

Austerity: During tough economic times, the federal government reduces the amount it spends, except in areas that reflect vital public trusts like health care and snowmobiles.

Balance of Payments: The formal term for rushing out to buy a new pair of shoes after discovering your husband dropped $700 on a flat-screen TV.

Benchmark Bond: The little-known brother of the famous spy, he was killed in a tragic securitization mishap.

Canada Foundation for Innovation: Frankly, I’m not sure what this is—but I’m confident we can rule out Stephen Harper’s barber as a member.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan: The Conservative plan to create jobs apparently hinges on ensuring every single Canadian eventually stars in one of these TV ads.

Capital Tax: Compared to people in some other countries, Canadians do not pay tax—they pay TAX.

Closely Held Bank: A financial institution that just finished watching a horror movie.

Core Unemployment Rate: The rate of joblessness among Canada’s apple farmers.

Custom Tariff Measures: No sophisticated G8 country would be caught dead getting its tariff measures off the rack.

Debt-to-GDP ratio: Trying to make a bad thing sound better by comparing it to something more positive. Example: Canada’s tourism industry is expecting a strong summer after new lows were reported in the country’s Nickelback-to-bacon ratio.

Deflation: A rare and complex phenomenon most recently seen acting on the career ambitions of Marc Garneau.

Dissaving: What people on vacation begin doing immediately after deplaning.

Excess Capacity: A term used by economists to describe the Prime Minister’s current levels of charisma production.

Family Trust: What you have yet to regain after investing your kid’s college fund in Pets.com.

Frictional Unemployment: The rate of joblessness among Canada’s prostitutes.

Income Testing: The act of swiping your debit card, entering your PIN and hoping to God there’s enough cash in your account.

International Association of Insurance Supervisors: A good organization to think about every time you begin to feel your job may be boring.

National Child Benefit: Secret name for my plan to abduct and forcibly confine the Wiggles.

Natural Rate of Unemployment: How Canada’s economy looks with its makeup off.

Overnight Financing Rate: The rate of interest charged for loans extended by smaller financial institutions, such as the Canadian Imperial Bank of That Guy Down at the Pool Hall, the One with a Hook for a Hand.

Per Capita: An up-and-coming defenceman in the Swedish elite league.

Prospectus: Based on my personal investing experience, I believe this is Latin for “Lose your money here!”

Protectionism: The act of covering your privates before informing your wife that you just blew the tax refund on a dirt bike.

Seasonal Adjustment: The exact moment in May when Finance officials, acting on instincts refined over thousands of years of relentless inbreeding, know it’s time to switch from long-sleeved polyester dress shirts to short-sleeved polyester dress shirts.

Self-dealing: What every young, budding economist dreads his mom will walk in on while he’s doing it.

Structural Unemployment: The rate of joblessness in Legoland.

Twenty-One-Year Deemed Disposition Rule: The formal global policy under which Billy Joel trades in for younger girlfriends.

Wealth Tax: This doesn’t really exist—but mentioning it every now and then keeps the poor folks quiet.

Zero-Rated Goods: The accounting designation for Adam Sandler’s last four movies.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk


Scott Feschuk’s guide to complex federal budget lingo

  1. Under “austerity”, you say “…areas that reflect vital public trusts like health care and snowmobiles”. Surely you mean gazebos rather than health care.

  2. “Canada Foundation for Innovation Frankly, I’m not sure what this is—but I’m confident we can rule out Stephen Harper’s barber as a member.”

    LOL Thanks for that…loved the pet.com too.

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