Fiscal Record of Canadian Political Parties

The last-minute election fear-mongering has started.  This time it’s mostly directed at Jack Layton and the NDP.  With all the recent news stories — as well as alarm raised by other leaders — about the fiscal and economic impact and record of NDP governments, I decided to take a look at and review the fiscal record of all federal and provincial governments in Canada for the past three decades.

These results may be surprising to some: they show that NDP governments have the best fiscal record of all political parties that have formed federal or provincial government in Canada. 

Of the 52 years the NDP has formed governments in Canada since 1980, they’ve run balanced budgets for exactly half of those years and deficits the other half.  This is a better record than both the Conservatives (balanced budgets 37% of years in government) and the Liberals (only 27%), as well as both Social Credit and PQ governments. 

It’s not just the number of years of balance that is relevant: it’s also the size of the deficits or surpluses that are important.  For this, the most important figure is the size of deficits as a share of GDP.

For this measure as well, NDP governments have the best record.  The average balance (deficit) as a share of provincial GDP for the 52 years of NDP governments in Canada is -0.77%, compared to -1.82% for all Liberal governments and -0.82% for all Conservative governments over the past thirty years.

I have some colourful charts that illustrate these records, but haven’t been able to upload them onto this blog.  They and more background details on these numbers are available at:


  1. Congrat to NDP on fiscal records. He should talk more about what NDP has accomplished vs disaster PC and Liberal for this matters.
    In addition NDP will not be vindictive nor punitive like PC and not cut Health care to the provinces like both PC and Liberals etc etc
    Thanks good article

  2. What is never mentioned is that many times balanced budgets are often the result of increased taxes.

    1. Peg Young, that is the thing, isn’t it? The middle class shoulders the bulk of the taxes in any system. The rich have tax shelters, and the poor have tax subsidies. In a socialist government the incentive to work is reduced by the amount of subsidies, causing the tax burden to fall on fewer shoulders.

      1. Sherry, that is not true. In a socialist government the rich shoulder most of the burden. which is how it should be. I myself make about 1.5 million a year and i have no problem paying more taxes to make sure it helps improve our government programs for EVERY single person in this country.

  3. I receive the Monitor and have done so for many years and value this organization for it’s wonderful investigative work and articles immensely. I still like the hard copy and pass it on to others who appreciate the content as well. I also contribute time to help make the democratic changes so needed during this critical election.

    Thank you for doing what you do to get the truth out there.

    Lynn Douglas

  4. Please, please, please make a priority of updating this information. And give us some nice charts or infographics to work with!!

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