Based in the city of Calgary, located in the Canadian province of Alberta, the Canada West Foundation has launched the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Commission. The goal of this Commission is to re-assess federal, provincial and municipal expenditure responsibilities, tax powers, and intergovernmental transfers in Canada. Precisely, the country, as many others during the COVID-19 crisis, has observed how its public fiscal imbalances have increased. In particular, the Commission calls for:

  • A reform of intergovernmental fiscal relations within Canada´s constitutional framework
  • Retaining Canada´s fiscally decentralized federation
  • Promoting fiscal transparency and accountability
  • Creating an efficient, sustainable and fair fiscal federation

The Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Commission has been initiated by a Steering Committee made up of academics and policy researchers from across Canada. Béland, Breton, Collins, Dahlby, Orsini, Slack and Tombe are members of this body.  An independent team of academic experts and policy practitioners from a variety of disciplines across the country will recommend practical reforms to the system of intergovernmental fiscal relations in Canada. As they argue, “like a Royal Commission, it will take a coordinated deep dive into complex questions; unlike a Royal Commission it would be independent of government appointments or political priorities”.

The Commission has already started publishing interesting research papers, policy briefs and op-eds where it is possible to find a bright diagnosis of the Canadian intergovernmental fiscal context together with policy recommendations for the reform of fiscal relations among the federal, provincial and municipal governments within the framework of the existing Canadian Constitution. Among the first policy recommendations issued by the Commission it is possible to find a piece on the need for a reform of the Fiscal Stabilization Program for Provinces, which is a pending issue for the Canadian federation during the last years. In fact, professor Dahlby, who is also a member of the Commission, wrote a Briefing Paper at the School of Public Policy of the University of Calgary, discussing this issue before the pandemic emerged.

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