Whitehorse Daily Star

Money has been managed irresponsibly: NDP

“We’re a party that believes very strongly that, like people, we should live within our means.”

By Sidney Cohen on April 19, 2016

“We’re a party that believes very strongly that, like people, we should live within our means.”

This is what Premier Darrell Pasloski said of the Yukon Party, which has been in power since 2002, in an interview with the Star mere hours after the 2016-17 territorial budget was tabled earlier this month.

But a study by the C.D. Howe Institute released last week tells a different story.

Over a 15-year period, ending in 2015, the Yukon spent a total of $675 million more than it budgeted, according to the non-profit, non-partisan public policy think tank report.

To put this in perspective, that amounts to about half – 53 per cent – of the 2016 budget.

The study is called Controlling the Public Purse: The Fiscal Accountability of Canada’s Senior Governments.

It evaluated the accessibility and reliability of financial reports from the federal, territorial and provincial governments.

The Yukon came in second-last on a ranking of provincial and territorial budget overruns.

The territory did better than only Nunavut, which spent $1.37 billion more than it planned to over the same 15-year period.

The Northwest Territories ranked just above the Yukon, with $543 million in budget overruns.

Authors Colin Busby and William B.P. Robson also measured how close these governments came to meeting the spending and revenue estimates laid out in their annual budgets.

The report noted that, “Yukon and Nunavut’s budget projections were the worst guides to results among all jurisdictions.”

Official Opposition leader Liz Hanson of the NDP didn’t miss the chance to raise the damning study Monday in the legislature.

“Yukoners are not impressed by the rate at which economic forecasts continue to show the Yukon Party’s fiscal ineptitude,” Hanson said.

“Will the premier finally admit that, with three years of recession and yet another dressing-down by a national organization, he has failed to responsibly manage Yukoners’ money?”

In response, Premier Darrell Pasloski reiterated that his government does not run deficits and did not increase taxes.

“This government has done nothing but lower taxes for all Yukon taxpayers and Yukon small businesses and has no net debt,” Pasloski said.

“Money in the bank and no tax increases are the best indicators of financial management in this territory.”

Altogether, the federal, provincial and territorial governments spent $69 billion more than they set out to in their budgets over the 15-year study period, according to the C.D. Howe Institute.

“Revenue and spending routinely exceed the amounts approved by legislators, and by astonishing amounts,” Robson said in a statement about the study. “Failures of accountability have major real-world consequences.”

Governments also took in more in taxes than they anticipated in their budgets.

Revenue overshoots amounted to $118 billion over 15 years.

The Yukon received a nod for making the feature points in its budgets consistent with those on its public accounts.

Public accounts are the government’s financial statements with the actual financial results from the previous fiscal year.

However, the authors criticized the Yukon for not releasing reports between budgets that show the government’s progress toward meeting its spending goals.

Smaller jurisdictions like the Yukon may not have the resources to produce interim reports.

The Yukon was also called out for tabling its budgets late.

The two most recent territorial budgets were announced after the end of the fiscal year (March 31), and the two budgets before that were tabled in late March.

C.D. Howe measured the quality of government financial reporting by asking if “an intelligent and motivated non-expert – a citizen, taxpayer or legislator” would be able to find consolidated revenue and spending figures – the ones reviewed by the auditor general – in publicly available budget documents and financial statements.

Alberta and Saskatchewan came out on top, both earning A+ (90 to 100 per cent) grades for presentation in their financial reports.

The N.W.T., Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island tied for worst, with marks of E (less than 50 per cent).

The Yukon scored in the lower-middle range for presentation, getting a C+, the same as Quebec.

The authors say that over the 15-year study period, governments’ financial reporting generally improved.

Comments (15)

Up 0 Down 0

Please tell me where I'm wrong on Apr 25, 2016 at 8:32 pm

@NDP is a laugh. How is it that the Harper Conservatives ran up the National debt some 200 billion dollars over 10 years with absolutely nothing to show for it. No infrastructure improvements, no fighter jets, no ships, no helicopters, nothing, just trade deals all over the world that have done nothing for the economy. Buffet sampling all over the world was Steve's favorite hobby but, they were glad to see him go with their contracts for raw natural resources and jobs for their countries secured. Conservative fiscal responsibility amounts to lining Corporate coffers while the country goes without. It will be interesting to see which boards Steve ends up on after his miserable term as MP is over.

Up 6 Down 2

ndp on the run on Apr 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm

NDP have low level of candidates and have no policy research.

Up 6 Down 1

Anonymous on Apr 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm

June come on now. Most of our politicians have grown up wealthy. Look at our new PM.

Up 7 Down 7

BnR on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm

NDP is a laugh
Well, that wasn't the topic, but since you want to go there.
In 2006-07, the Conservatives inherited a surplus of $13.8 billion — which they turned into a deficit of $5.8 billion within two years. Then, a series of deficits for many years. You are only guessing what will be the end result from the Liberals budgets.

Up 12 Down 6

NDP Is A Laugh on Apr 21, 2016 at 10:09 am

@ BnR, and yet the Libs and NDPer's howled at the federal conservatives in indignation for those Harper deficits you mention, (In spite of being two faced by voting in support of those deficits in parliament and pushing for even more spending at the time). Harper was made out to be the devil incarnate afterwards, that's a nice double standard isn't it? On a different subject we now have Trudeaus Liberal government spending like moneys going out of style with huge deficits that unlike Harpers have no recessionary justification. You better thank your great grandchildren and as yet unborn great-great grandchildren because they'll be paying taxes for the money Trudeau is throwing away today.

Up 18 Down 36

Alberta Government has money in the bank on Apr 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm

They are choosing not to spend it.
Like this and other pieces the NDP put out are not based in fact but but trying to mislead Yukon voters with BS.
Yukon voters are smart and can see through the NDP outlandish statements that make no sense.

Up 20 Down 46

It is to bad Liz couldn't get her facts straight on Apr 20, 2016 at 7:13 am

If the Yukon Government was over spending of $675 million there would be major deficit.
If the 2015 was over by 53% than we have deficit of $500 for 2015.
Some one is trying to read the tea leafs backwards.
We had overshoots that amounted to $118 billion over 15 years is not believable.
Alberta and Saskatchewan are both comparative managed government over the last 15 years.
I am glad that the NDP realize the conservatives are the best fiscal managers..
I think the NDP in the Yukon might think twice about managing our money.
When they were in power they spent $16 million on a building at the hospital for seniors that never opened.
They spent $25 million on saw mill in Watson Lake that was closed.
They put no reg's in place when the Faro mine opened and let them create a major mess that Canada has to pay for to clean up.
The Alberta NDP premier told the NDP to go pound sand on oil and gas development.

Up 35 Down 7

Jessie on Apr 20, 2016 at 1:10 am

"The Yukon came in second-last on a ranking of provincial and territorial budget overruns."

This is something to be proud of?

Up 27 Down 11

BnR on Apr 19, 2016 at 8:04 pm

NDP is good for a....
I've never voted NDP, and likely never would, but, your comment is so ill informed and biased it beggars belief.
And why is the NDP forecasting a huge deficit? Why indeed. The previous generations of conservative governments so completely mismanaged oil revenues that there is no rainy day fund left. What would you have the NDP do? Let Alberta's economy collapse further? Stephen Harpers government did the same thing during the last recession, and we came out the other side ok. So go back to your comic books, that seems to be where you get your reality from.

Up 16 Down 31

north_of_60 on Apr 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

"Over a 15-year period, ending in 2015, the Yukon spent a total of $675 million more than it budgeted,"

That's $45 million per year on average, which is not surprising given the cost overruns on most projects and the bumbling mistakes of the vast public service bureaucracy that has to be covered. The waste is inherent in the bureaucratic system, and culling the incompetent is the way to reduce it.

Like that's ever going to happen, eh?

As for the NDP/LIB, show us the financial history of when you were in power, and we'll decide who can best manage the Billion dollars the Yukon gets from the taxpayers of Canada every year.

Up 23 Down 41

no to NDP on Apr 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Please don't vote for the NDP, they destroy all provinces/territories that elect them. Look at Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta.

Please do not vote for the NDP.

Up 21 Down 35

jc on Apr 19, 2016 at 4:55 pm

The only thing the NDP represent are Unionized workers. If your not union forget any help from the socialists.

Up 19 Down 36

jc on Apr 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

That's still better then the NDP.

Up 67 Down 28

June Jackson on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:47 pm

"Over a 15-year period, ending in 2015, the Yukon spent a total of $675 million more than it budgeted" Mr. Paslowski is ostensibly wealthy outside of government paychecks, so its entirely possible that he doesn't understand what "living within our means" ... well... means.

I am not surprised that YP did not know what 'budget' meant, but i am surprised by the amount they got away with.. $675 million... and they still went after seniors? jeez...

Up 43 Down 83

NDP Is Good For a Laugh on Apr 19, 2016 at 3:38 pm

The NDP preaching about fiscal responsibility? That's pretty funny considering the track record of financial chaos NDP governments have left behind them in Canada. Ask Rachel Notley in Alberta about her current unprecedented 10.8 BILLION dollar budget deficit this year. And the Alberta NDP caucus all had the gall to stand in the legislature and actually applaud when this massive deficit was announced!

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