Presentation | 2024

The Politics of Local Budgeting in Canada: Three Case Studies

The annual budget process is a key function for local governments around the world. In Canada, the process by which municipalities prepare operating and capital budgets differs somewhat across the almost 4,000 municipalities operating within 13 different provincial/territorial contexts. The budget is the result of a process that involves many actors with different motivations and interrelationships, operating under different decision-making frameworks.

On June 12, 2024, Richard M. Bird Post-Doctoral Fellow, Stephanie Ortynsky, compared the process of local government budgeting to federal and provincial budgeting processes before she dove into three case studies of municipalities that have embarked on budgetary reform: a change in the fiscal year in Halifax; the introduction of strong mayor powers in Toronto; and the implementation of multi-year budgeting in Vancouver. She identified key budgetary actors and their motivations in each case study and discussed changes local governments could make to improve the budgetary process.

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Stephanie Ortynsky is the 2023-24 Richard M. Bird postdoctoral fellow at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG). She received a Doctorate (PhD) in Public Policy from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina in 2023. Stephanie has contributed to research, evaluation, and knowledge mobilization projects in Saskatchewan, Switzerland, South Africa, and Tajikistan. Stephanie has taught graduate-level courses in policy analysis, public sector financial management, statistics for public managers, and most recently municipal finance at the University of Toronto.

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