Fiscal Choices: Canada after the Pandemic
Available: May 2024© 2024
288 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in, 18 b&w figures, 5 b&w tables
Not Yet Published
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that governments can quickly respond to a fiscal crisis without becoming mired in unproductive wrangling. But the pandemic has also revealed the limits of traditional policy instruments in stabilizing the economy, controlling inflation, and fostering economic growth. Fiscal Choices sheds light on the economic dimensions of COVID-19 and examines the state of Canada’s fiscal policy and fiscal health following the pandemic.
The book covers a cluster of key fiscal policy topics: the overall capacity of government, the growth of inequalities, the management of sovereign debt, and the troubled institutions of federalism and parliamentary government. The book draws upon candid, in-depth interviews with over seventy former and current politicians, public servants, and academic experts who aim to establish a sustainable future within an accountable political system.
The book argues that although those who are entrusted with the instruments of power are intelligent and well meaning, they are reluctant to take risks or abandon well-known, if poorly performing, formulae. It concludes with a set of predictions and prescriptions rooted in a realistic interpretation of Canada’s political economy. Ultimately, Fiscal Choices presents a sober assessment of federalism and parliamentary government as instruments of democratic accountability.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
1. The Pandemic and After
Responding to the Pandemic
The Post-pandemic Search for Stability
What Kind of Change Is Required?
Keep in Mind
2. Making Economic Decisions
An Epistemic Elite
Distinctive Roles and Critical Relationships
The Limitations of Elite Decision-Making
3. Governing after the Pandemic
Can Government Do Good?
Stabilizing the Economy: Program Design and Delivery
Governments’ Role in the Economy: Will Anything Change?
The Growth Imperative
4. Coping with Income and Wealth Inequalities
Why Is Inequality a Problem?
The Complicated Relationship between Inequality and Economic Growth
Traditional Programs That Tackle Inequality
Alternative Proposals on Inequality
5. Dealing with the Debt
The Debt Threat
Guardrails, Anchors, and Rules
Debt Options: Good, Bad, and Ugly
6. Holding the Federation Together
Evaluating Fiscal Federalism Institutions
The Pandemic: Addressing a Fiscal Emergency
7. Keeping Government Accountable
On Being Accountable
Parliament and the Budget Process
Bureaucrats, Budgets, and Program Reviews
Auditors and Budget Officers
8. Canada’s Fiscal Future
Appendix 1: Interview Questions
Appendix 2: A Survey on Canadians’ Opinions on the Post-pandemic Economy and Fiscal Policy