The Regional Distribution of Federal Fiscal Balances: Who Pays, Who Gets and Why It Matters

Abstract

This paper focuses on the regional redistribution of income, employment and population in Canada associated with federal tax, expenditure and transfer policies. Data on net federal fiscal balances by region (the differences between total federal revenues contributed by a region and the total federal expenditures in and transfers to the region) are presented for the period 1961-2018. Through the 10 major fiscal policies producing regional redistribution, over $1.5 trillion (2018$) has been shifted from Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario to the other provinces and territories. The resulting regional redistribution of income, employment and income has been substantial. While it has been consistent with equity and stabilization objectives in most cases, there have been significant exceptions, particularly involving Alberta.

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