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Holding Canada's Cities to Account: an Assessment of Municipal Fiscal Management

Listed author(s):
  • Benjamin Dachis

    (C.D. Howe Institute)

  • William B.P. Robson

    (C.D. Howe Institute)

Cities are the most visible level of government for most Canadians, providing services such as waste collection, policing and transit. Yet their budgets are the most opaque of any level of government. Municipalities generally use accounting in their budgets that does not match what they use in their financial reports. Peering through the messy numbers reveals that most cities routinely miss budget targets by large amounts. Councillors and taxpayers who seek to hold these municipal governments to account face a daunting task. Amid the mixed record, however, are some municipalities with clearer numbers and better records for spending control. That fact, along with improvements that have occurred at the federal and provincial levels in recent years, shows that progress is possible. The authors suggest five basic reforms would create clearer, more consistent budgets and would bring the financial management of Canada’s municipalities into line with their fiscal impact and their importance in Canadians’ lives.

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Article provided by C.D. Howe Institute in its journal C.D. Howe Institute Backgrounder.

Volume (Year): (2011)
Issue (Month): 145 (November)

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Handle: RePEc:cdh:backgr:145
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  1. Reid S. Adrian & Yvan Guillemette & William B.P. Robson, 2007. "Missed Targets: Canada's 2007 Fiscal Accountability Ranking," C.D. Howe Institute Backgrounder, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 100, March.
  2. Colin Busby & Benjamin Dachis & William B.P. Robson, 2010. "Unbalanced Books: How to Improve Toronto’s Fiscal Accountability," e-briefs 103, C.D. Howe Institute.
  3. Colin Busby & William Robson, 2013. "Canada's 2012 Fiscal Accountability Rankings," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 373, February.
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