Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Even as the pandemic recedes as a health and economic threat, federal government spending remains at levels only reached at the peak of recent crises.

In late August, newly-appointed Treasury Board president Anita Anand instructed cabinet ministers to identify $15.4 billion in budget cuts over five years. Of that figure, just $500 million is targeted for this fiscal year, representing roughly 0.1 per cent of the federal budget. 

Now well into their third term, the Liberals show no signs of making spending cuts that are comparable to those undertaken by their recent predecessors, even though much of the growth in spending was driven by pandemic-era additions to the civil service.

The result is a significant departure from a past “consensus” about the size of the state, says Sahir Khan, executive director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy.

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Fin DePencier is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Over the past few years, he has reported on the ground from Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan as a correspondent for Palladium...