The one common theme in criticism of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's March 4 budget was almost all of the hard decisions on spending cuts were put off for another day. The budget promises to wrestle Canada's $53-billion deficit down to the ground within five years, but offered few specifics as to how that would happen.
There is a way, however, to get a sense of where Mr. Flaherty and Treasury Board President Stockwell Day are planning to cut. Ninety-seven departments and agencies recently released three-year projections for spending and staffing through to 2012-2013. The documents revealed that spending on prisons is on the way up, while climate-change programs at Environment Canada and food safety programs at Agriculture Canada are set to expire.
The 97 reports can be found here, but cannot be clearly ranked to see where spending is heading up and where the cuts will happen. To that end, the Ottawa Notebook (with the help of Globe and Mail editorial assistant Jill Nault) has compiled such a list, showing the biggest projected winners and losers in terms of percentage budget increases and total amounts.
The rankings show that departments poised to lose temporary stimulus money, such as Infrastructure Canada, Industry Canada and the regional development organizations, will see the biggest drop off in spending.
In contrast, the Department of Finance, which is responsible for the ever-growing increases in provincial transfers, tops the list of biggest total increase. Corrections Canada's planned 27 per cent increase is the largest in terms of percentage.
Here's the full breakdown: