The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

February 04, 2016 05:30 ET

Fraser Institute News Release: B.C.'s Clark and Quebec's Couillard Best Fiscal Managers; Ontario's Wynne Has Worst Record Among Sitting Canadian Premiers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 4, 2016) - Among Canadian premiers, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard essentially tied for the best record at managing provincial finances, finds a new analysis released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The analysis, Measuring the Fiscal Performance of Canada's Premiers, ranks premiers based on three fiscal policy categories: government spending, taxes, and deficits and debt. Premiers who managed spending more prudently, balanced their books and paid down debt, and reduced or maintained competitive tax rates ranked higher.

"As provinces prepare their annual budgets, it's important to emphasize that sound fiscal policy is a crucial driver of economic well-being," said Charles Lammam, study co-author and director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute.

Overall, Clark ranked first in fiscal performance with a score of 78.5 out of 100, followed closely by Couillard (78.2) and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (77.1).

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's score of 61.4 placed her sixth overall, yet last among sitting premiers (four of the ranked premiers are no longer in office).

"Ontario's persistent deficits and mounting government debt are key reasons for Premier Wynne's poor performance," said Ben Eisen, associate director of Ontario prosperity studies at the Fraser Institute.

In the government spending category, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil ranked first (92.6 out of 100), followed by Couillard (90.1) and Clark (84.4). Each of these three premiers did a relatively good job at restraining spending growth. Former Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz (22.8) ranked last in this category, growing spending, on average, faster than the rate of economic growth and both inflation and population growth.

"Premiers looking to better manage government spending can look to provinces such as Quebec, which has started to turn its fiscal ship around," Lammam said.

In the taxes category, former Alberta Premier Alison Redford (90.2) ranked first, largely due to Alberta's then single-rate personal income tax system and lowest corporate income tax rate during her term in office, followed by Wall (78.0) and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger (64.3). Former New Brunswick Premier David Alward (27.7) ranked last, increasing key tax rates on both personal and corporate income.

Finally, in the deficits and debt category, Wall ranked first scoring a perfect 100 because he ran a surplus, on average, during his tenure and reduced Saskatchewan's debt burden. Clark (89.4) and Couillard (87.5) rounded out the top three, with former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Tom Marshall ranking last after substantially increasing the province's debt burden.

"All premiers have room to improve, but those who fare well in the rankings should be commended while those lagging behind can use the performance of others as a model for reform," Lammam said.

Overall rankings (scores out of 100)

1. Christy Clark, B.C. (78.5)

2. Philippe Couillard, QC (78.2)

3. Brad Wall, SK (77.1)

4. Stephen McNeil, N.S. (69.3)

5. Greg Selinger, MB (63.0)

6. Kathleen Wynne, ON (61.4)

7. Alison Redford,* AB (53.8)

8. David Alward,* NB (47.2)

9. Robert Ghiz,* P.E.I. (44.1)

10. Tom Marshall,* NL (37.8)

* indicates former premier

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

Contact Information

  • MEDIA CONTACT: For more information or
    for interviews with Mr. Lammam or Mr. Eisen, please contact:
    Aanand Radia, Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute
    (416) 363-6575 ext. 238