“As provinces prepare their annual budgets, it’s important to emphasize that sound fiscal policy is a crucial driver of economic well-being,” said Charles Lammam, the study’s co-author and Director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute.
The conservative think tank based its findings on three fiscal policy categories: government spending, taxes, and deficits and debt.
Premiers who spent more prudently, balanced their books and paid down debt, and reduced or maintained competitive tax rates ranked higher.
Overall, Clark ranked first in fiscal performance with a score of 78.5 out of 100, followed closely by Couillard (78.2) and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (77.1).
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne scored 61.4, placing her sixth overall and last among sitting premiers.
Four of the ranked premiers are no longer in office.
“Ontario’s persistent deficits and mounting government debt are key reasons for Premier Wynne’s poor performance,” explained Ben Eisen, associate director of Ontario prosperity studies at the Fraser Institute.
In the government spending category, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil ranked first (92.6 out of 100), followed by Couillard (90.1) and Clark (84.4).
Former Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz (22.8) ranked last.
“Premiers looking to better manage government spending can look to provinces such as Quebec, which has started to turn its fiscal ship around,” Lammam said.
In the taxes category, former Alberta Premier Alison Redford (90.2) ranked first, largely due to Alberta’s then single-rate personal income tax system and lowest corporate income tax rate during her term in office, followed by Wall (78.0) and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger (64.3).
Former New Brunswick Premier David Alward (27.7) ranked last, increasing key tax rates on both personal and corporate income.
In the deficits and debt category, Wall ranked first scoring a perfect 100 because he ran a surplus, on average, during his tenure and reduced Saskatchewan’s debt burden.
Clark (89.4) and Couillard (87.5) rounded out the top three, with former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Tom Marshall ranking last after substantially increasing the province’s debt burden.
“All premiers have room to improve, but those who fare well in the rankings should be commended while those lagging behind can use the performance of others as a model for reform,” Lammam said.
Take a look at the overall rankings (out of 100):
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