Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have hit a record high in per-person spending for a government, surpassing even the spending of prime ministers during times of war or recession.
A Fraser Institute study found that in 2019 the federal government spent $9,066 per Canadian, beating the prior record of $8,811 set by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009, following the 2008 financial crisis.
Trudeau not only set the bar for spending but did it consecutively for three years, surpassing Harper’s previous record in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“Wars and recessions clearly affect government finances, but high levels of spending without those same external pressures raises legitimate questions about fiscal discipline in Ottawa,” said Fraser Institute’s executive vice-president Jason Clemens.
During World War II, Canada’s per-person spending hit a then-record high of $7,582 in 1943 but then it sharply declined to $1,766 by 1948 when adjusted for inflation.
Trudeau’s federal spending has raised eyebrows from critics and economists.
At the end of 2019, Finance Minister Bill Morneau revealed the deficit would be billions higher than expected. The Liberal government is expecting a $26.6 billion deficit for 2019, with a further $28.1 billion in 2020, according to the latest fiscal update.
Conservative critics have warned that the Liberals are potentially setting the country up for a “made-in Canada” recession.
“The Liberals’ disastrous fiscal policies have already added tens of billions in new national debt. The latest update reveals it’s even worse than previously thought,” wrote a Conservative Party statement.
Both Canadians and economists have expressed fears of an oncoming recession in the recent past.
According to a poll by Bloomberg News, 56% of Canadians believed that an impending recession in 2020 is either “likely” or “somewhat likely.”
Oxford University economists have also predicted that for 2020 Canada has a 40% chance of a recession, whereas the US has only a 25-30% chance.