Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Oct. 17, 2013.

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has invited private-sector economists for a face-to-face meeting on Oct. 28, a timeline that suggests the government's fall economic update would be delivered in the second week of November.

Wednesday's Throne Speech promised Ottawa would climb out of deficit by 2015 and that new balanced budget legislation would keep federal finances in the black, with exceptions for recessions.

The fall economic update will provide the latest glimpse at how Ottawa is progressing toward that target. It will also show what kind of surpluses could be expected in the following years. Those numbers will be watched closely by all political parties as they start thinking about election platforms for the 2015 campaign.

Story continues below advertisement

With the shortened fall sitting due to prorogation, the week of Nov. 11 is the only break week. In recent years, Mr. Flaherty has delivered his economic update during a break week at a venue away from Ottawa.

The government's budget numbers are based on an average forecast private-sector economists provided in March. The November update would refresh those estimates. Economists have been downgrading their growth forecasts slightly in the months since, but they still generally assume Mr. Flaherty should be able to balance the books by 2015, provided there is no major financial shock.

The Throne Speech hinted at action on several economic fronts, from balanced-budget legislation, to tighter public-service spending and broad changes to the training grants and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The government provided few additional details Thursday, as the Conservative message focused on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to Brussels this week to sign an agreement-in-principle with the European Union on trade.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement said he'd be looking to find more savings from the public service and details on the balanced-budget bill would come later.

"I think when you look around the world, countries that got into trouble fiscally had habits of not balancing their budget even in the good times. I don't think that's an example that Canada wishes to emulate. And so we will have further details in the future," he said.

Whether balanced-budget laws actually produce balanced budgets, however, is an open question.

Story continues below advertisement

"I'm not a big fan of balanced-budget legislation," said Craig Wright, RBC chief economist. Mr. Wright said such laws can force governments to make decisions during recessions – such as tax hikes or spending cuts – that he said "kicks the economy when it is already down."

University of Manitoba economics professor Wayne Simpson – who has studied provincial balanced-budget laws – agrees. He notes that a common feature is a "rainy day" fund to store cash to cover potential deficits and he questions whether that is the best use of government funds.

"I think frankly they're not very good policy," he said. "I'm not sure that's the best way to organize your finances, whether it's a household or a government, to save money for a rainy day as opposed to saying 'I know I can borrow money if I have to.' "

Prof. Simpson said reducing debt as a percentage of gross domestic product – which the Throne Speech commits to doing – is a more important measure of healthy finances.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies