The CEO Poll: Time to ax deficits

Canadian CEOs want provincial governments to slash deficits.

(Illustration: Craig Smallish/Getty)

Canadian CEOs have a message for provincial governments: cut spending. The CEOs responded to a web poll conducted by COMPAS Inc. about how provincial governments should deal with rising deficits and mounting debt loads.

More than 90% of the respondents want provincial governments to pay down debt over the next 5 years, and 89% of them favour reducing spending, although there was no consensus on the areas that should be targeted.

The respondents believe most of the work to reduce deficits should focus on cutting spending to social services and other areas, rather than by raising taxes, fees for government services, and tuition costs for colleges and universities.

Many of the CEOs also expressed interest in exploring forms of privatized healthcare in Canada to reduce the strain on provincial finances. ‘The main problem with the healthcare system is government regulations that hamper sound business practices and add frustration and costs to the system,’ wrote one of the respondents. ‘We have to look at healthcare and start imposing user fees to free up resources,’ according to another CEO.

In their comments, many of CEOs expressed frustration at the size of provincial governments, and felt it could be significantly reduced. ‘A good start is reining in the size of the civil service,’ wrote one. ‘Control government expenditures by cutting back on minister and employee salaries,’ wrote another.

The need to deal with deficits is immediate, according to some of the respondents. ‘We have been living well beyond our means for years,’ wrote one CEO, ‘and if we don’t put a plan in place to end it, it will only get worse.’