Imagine you’re near what you thought was a dormant volcano but it suddenly erupts. Assuming you escape, you might later reflect that there was nothing “sudden” about it.
There was an aura of complacency in Queen’s Park as the Ontario government released its update on the state of provincial finances.
Canadian headlines about government deficits and debt can be dizzying and hard for people to grasp. A few billion here and several billion there and the natural response is for one’s eyes to glaze over in despair. But the increasing government debt has tangible and immediate consequences that affect Canadian families today and into the future.
A new report on provincial debts and deficits by Moody's, the international credit rating agency, is another piercing reminder of Ontario's serious fiscal challenges.
Another year has come and gone and Ontario's weak public finances remain largely unchanged. The provincial government did little to improve its fiscal position in 2013 and recently signalled it intends to continue with debt-financed spending into the New Year. But the status quo isnt serving Ontarians well. For 2014, the government should chart a new course that places provincial finances on a more sound footing. That would be a much-needed New Year's resolution for Canadas largest province.
With the holiday season now behind us, the oncoming flood of credit statements to Canadian households is a powerful reminder that there are no free lunches. Borrowing to pay for current consumption brings interest payments, and ultimately, the need to pay off principal balances. Most Canadians are intimately familiar with this reality when it comes to their household finances. But this same reality also applies to governments. As taxpayers, Canadian families are also responsible for interest on government debt. And these payments are significant.