Media Release | May. 9, 2013

Which B.C. party is better at fiscal management? UBC prof provides independent assessment

A new study from UBC’s Sauder School of Business seeks to provide an independent assessment of the economic track records of British Columbia’s top political parties vying for the May 14th election. The study finds that no one party is significantly better at fiscal management than another. On average since 1991, according to the study, B.C. fiscal performance, compared to that of other provinces, has been modestly better under the NDP.

However, the report notes there are significant differences in performance among the different NDP premiers. Also, real median income in B.C. compared with other provinces rose significantly more under the BC Liberals.

The study by associate professor Tsur Somerville compares B.C.’s economic and fiscal performance under the NDP and Liberals against the performance of other provinces.

The report finds that the NDP government under Mike Harcourt controlled debt and expenditures better than the governments led by Glen Clark, Dan Miller, and Ujjal Dosanjh, and both BC Liberal premiers. The Liberals under Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark also outperformed the Clark, Miller and Dosanjh governments, according to his assessment.

When averaged over time, B.C.’s ratio of net debt to GDP and the ratio of government program expenses to GDP were lower under the NDP, when compared to other provinces’ economies since 1991.

“Looking at the last two decades there are periods of both good and bad fiscal management by both parties,” says Somerville.

Other key findings include:

  • Total employment growth under the NDP and Liberals was fairly similar.
  • Job growth under the NDP was driven by growth in public sector employment.
  • Job growth under the Liberals resulted from greater private sector employment growth.
  • The Liberals benefited from a more favourable macro-economic environment than the NDP, with dramatically higher commodity price growth and lower interest rates.

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Andrew Riley
Sauder School of Business
Tel: 604.822.8345
E-mail: andrew.riley@sauder.ubc.ca

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NDP vs Liberal Performance

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