Trudeau to increase per-person federal debt by 5%: Fraser Institute

By Staff | October 23, 2017 | Last updated on October 23, 2017
2 min read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on track to increase per-person federal debt more than any other prime minister who didn’t face a world war or economic recession, finds a study by the Fraser Institute.

“Government debt matters — higher debt means more tax dollars are diverted away from important public programs in order to pay interest, and it leaves future generations on the hook to pay for today’s spending through higher taxes,” said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the study, in a release.

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In light of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the study tracks the debt legacies of every Canadian prime minister since confederation: how much they increased or decreased total federal debt (which includes all federal financial liabilities) during their time in office, after accounting for both inflation and population changes.

The study found, based on the Liberal government’s projections, that Trudeau will increase per-person federal debt by 5% from 2015 to 2019 — the largest increase of any prime minister whose time in office didn’t include a world war or economic recession.

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Other Liberal prime ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Lester B. Pearson all managed to cut per-person debt, the think tank reported: Chrétien by 13%, Martin by 8% and Pearson by 6%.

Only two other prime ministers increased per-person federal debt during their tenure while not presiding over a world war or recession: John Abbott and Mackenzie Bowell, both of whom served in the late 19th century.

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Among all Canadian prime ministers, Robert Borden, who governed during the First World War and four years of economic downturns, increased per-person debt levels the most (188%). Louis St. Laurent lowered the federal per-person debt the most (34%), even though his tenure included two recessions. staff


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