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Per capita debt in Canada hits record $23,000

That’s the highest per capita federal debt in Canada’s history.




Each and every Canadian will soon owes $23,000.

That’s the amount of per capita federal debt last year, the highest figure in Canada’s history, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

“We are currently working on a new federal debt time series which will be released on December 6,” said Antonia Lafkas, spokesperson for StatsCan.

Figures show pandemic borrowing by Parliament drove net per capita debt far past the previous record set in 1997.

“The concept of net debt here is as defined in the Public Accounts,” said Lafkas. The figure subtracts from total bonded debt the “value” of all government assets including federal property that would never be sold like roads, prisons and national parks.

Figures indicate the per capita debt from 2019 grew from $17,276 to $22,915, a 33% increase. The previous record was $19,733 in 1997, prompting then-Finance Minister Paul Martin to cut 45,000 public service jobs, raise corporate taxes by 12.5%, eliminate one-fifth of foreign aid spending, abolish 73 federal agencies and privatize Canadian National Railways in what he called a “frontal assault” on deficit spending.

But Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland seems to be taking the opposite approach and has called current spending sustainable.

“Our budget sets out a prudent and sustainable fiscal path,” Freeland told the Commons April 20.

“I have to point out for Canadians that our fiscal approach is prudent and reasonable.”

Historic debt figures followed “some of the major national and international political and socioeconomic events that have shaped Canada,” StatsCan wrote in a 2017 report Federal Net Debt Per Capita since 1867.

Net per capita debt passed $100 in 1917, the same year Parliament introduced the first Income Tax Act. It doubled past $200 in 1920, and doubled again past $400 by 1943. In more recent postwar years net federal debt was:

  • $682 per capita in 1961
  • $863 in 1971
  • $3,488 in 1981
  • $14,146 in 1991
  • $17,641 in 2001
  • $22,915 as of December 31, 2020

“(Justin) Trudeau and Freeland are using the cover of COVID-19 to embark on a debt-fueled spending binge and they have absolutely no plans on how to pay for it,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

“It’s mind-boggling that the Trudeau government is nearly doubling the debt within a few short years. And we shouldn’t kid ourselves: taxpayers are going to get clobbered if Trudeau and Freeland don’t rein in this out-of-control spending.”

The CTF estimates that the federal government debt is currently increasing by $424 million every day.

Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.), one of only five current members who served in the 1997 Parliament, earlier warned MPs of ongoing spending.

“Balanced budgets may be more than ten years away,” McKay told the Commons last October 6.

“I have been out and about with constituents and others. The general pattern of the conversation is to lament the progress of this pandemic and then the conversation tends to move toward how we will pay for this.

“The programs the government has put in place are generally well-received.

“It is quite right to say that the government has made its balance sheet available to Canadian citizens. Nevertheless, there will be a day of reckoning.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com


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Vaccine passports now mandatory in Alberta

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.




The Alberta government’s new vaccine mandates for businesses, entities and events are in effect.

Each organization must follow one of two options: implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or comply with all public health restrictions as outlined in Order 42-2021.

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

The REP allows operators to avoid the majority of public health restrictions with the implementation of a proof of vaccination program, although vaccine requirements for staff are at the employer’s discretion. Face mask mandates are still required in all indoor spaces.

The program doesn’t apply to those under 12 years of age and businesses that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. As well, employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors will be permitted access to spaces without requiring a vaccine passport.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, adults need to provide valid photo identification that matches their paper or digital vaccine record showing name, vaccine type and date of administration. From now until October 25, proof of partial vaccination (one dose) will suffice, however after that date, proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Those under 12 will only need to show vaccination paperwork.

Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities that don’t implement the REP will be limited to one-third capacity of their fire code occupancy and attendees must be in household cohorts or with up to two close contacts if they live alone.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions, but attendees must maintain a two-metre distancing between households.  

Restaurants that don’t follow the REP cannot offer indoor dining, and outdoor dining will be limited to six people per table from one household, and liquor sales will have to end by 10 p.m. with consumption cut off by 11 p.m.

Retail, shopping malls and food courts aren’t eligible for the REP, therefore will be reduced to one-third capacity of fire code occupancy and are required to stop all in-person dining, switching to take out only.

Indoor private social gatherings will be permitted for those that are vaccinated to a maximum of two households up to 10 (vaccine eligible) vaccinated people. There are no restrictions for children under 12. For those who are unvaccinated, indoor social gatherings are not permitted.

Private outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people who are socially distanced.  

Churches will be limited to one-third of fire code capacity and masks and social distancing are still mandatory in places of worship.

Employees are mandated to work from home unless their physical presence is required for their duties.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter a polling place for Monday’s federal election although physical distancing, masking and other transmission reducing measures will be in place.

For more information on the Restriction Exemption Program, click here.   

Risdon is a reporter at the Western Standard

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Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.




Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday, along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system, but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced it would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement: “Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have its own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18-plus entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard

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