Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations: Workhorse of the Federation

Harvey Lazar

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations: Workhorse of the Federation

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During World War II, the Dominion developed plans to meet the public's demand for a state that would play a greater role in the development of the welfare state. As a result, “executive federalism” was born as an instrumental response to the democratic will of the people. The federal–provincial arena brought together federal spending power, provincial jurisdiction, and new program ideas. It also brought revenue sharing, tax harmonization, a welfare state, and fiscal decentralization. While the federation of Canada moved to the intergovernmental fiscal arena, where the provinces operate within a framework of broad interdependence, the provinces eventually became autonomous. They declined to negotiate lower transfers, and the federal government eventually acted unilaterally in its adjustments to fiscal arrangements. This article discusses intergovernmental fiscal relations within the Canadian federation. It discusses the relevant constitutional provisions on intergovernmental fiscal relations and intergovernmental relations over four historical periods since World War II.

Keywords: welfare state; executive federalism; federal spending power; fiscal decentralization; federal government; Canadian federation; intergovernmental fiscal relations; intergovernmental relations

Article.  8672 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Regional Political Studies

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