Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
New Brunswick is projecting an almost $200 million surplus for the 2023-24 fiscal year, five times the March estimate. Net debt is decreasing and is projected at $11.7 billion. While Opposition parties and advocates are calling on the government to use the surplus to increase spending on healthcare, education, and housing, Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said that, ‘while encouraging, he is not seeing the same early signs of windfalls that were seen in the last few years and is treating the surplus cautiously.’ Revenue is projected to be $151.3 million higher than budgeted, while total expenses are projected to be lower than budgeted by $8.1 million.
The Alberta government expects a $2.4 billion surplus this fiscal year, in spite of a drop in oil prices and the economic cost of ongoing wildfires, which have forced the province to use the majority of its contingency fund. According to Finance Minister Nate Horner, the province’s economic growth can be attributed to its record population growth. Alberta’s population has increased by around 4.4%, driving both personal and corporate income taxes higher. These taxes have offset decreases in resource revenue and firefighting costs and allowed the province to maintain a $1.4 billion taxation surplus. The NDP has countered that this assessment does not account for upcoming expenses such as the government’s purchase of Dynalife or the costs associated with campaign commitments from this year’s election. They have also stated that these results are not reflective of ongoing problems faced by Albertans including the housing crisis, nor do they take into consideration how the government’s pause on renewables may affect capital.
Public Accounts show B.C. ended the year with a $704-million surplus, total provincial debt decreased, and the operating debt was eliminated.
With higher-than-expected revenue from income tax, higher natural gas prices and a bump in federal contributions, revenue for the year ended $12.98 billion higher than estimates, allowing the province to finish FY 2022-2023 with a $704 million surplus, instead of the deficit it projected.
Despite a near across the board increase in revenue, revenue from commercial Crowns decreased as ICBC saw higher claim costs and declines in investment income. BC Hydro ended the year with positive, but lower than forecast net income.
- Provincial GDP grew by 3.6% in 2022, tied for fourth highest among provinces and equal to the national average. This was above the 2.8% forecast in Budget 2023.
- Total Provincial debt decreased year-over-year by $1.2 billion, and the operating debt incurred during the pandemic was eliminated.
- Taxpayer-supported debt decreased by $2.4 billion. Taxpayer supported debt-to-GDP ratio is 15.4%, the lowest in the country.
The Ontario Legislature remains adjourned for the summer and will return on September 25th.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has shuffled his cabinet after Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark’s resignation on Sunday. The shuffle comes during a fall-out over the selection of Greenbelt lands for housing development and the Integrity Commissioner’s report.
Changes made to the executive council include the appointment of Paul Calandra as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Stan Cho takes over for Calandra as the Minister of Long-Term Care.
Former CRTC chair appointed as new interim federal ethics commissioner– August 31, 2023
Konrad Winrich von Finckenstein, a former chair of Canada’s broadcasting regulator, has been named interim federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, after the government’s previous pick for the role resigned amid concern about the appropriateness of the appointment. He was appointed last year to the Order of Canada for “his distinguished and multifaceted career in law and federal public service,” according to text from the office of the Governor-General.
The City of Toronto is looking into its contracts with a construction company that paid tens of millions of dollars to upgrade city facilities amid concern taxpayer money was misused. The construction work now under scrutiny was part of Toronto’s accessibility upgrades program, a multi-year effort to ensure the city’s services and facilities are fully accessible to people with disabilities.