CFIB Study on Municipal Spending Incorrect and Misleading

In the last few days, CKNW has been touting a new study by the CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) claiming that spending in the four largest cities in Canada is growing out of control. Specifically (in Vancouver) they claim that spending from 2000 to 2011 grew by 50% while population only increased by 15%.

Since this is only comparing 3 metrics (spending, inflation, and population growth), it should be easy to check out their numbers. Based on the City of Vancouver financial statements and the reported inflation in Canada, I find that their numbers on spending are both misleading and WAY off.

We have reports from 2000 to 2012, but to align with their study, I’ll talk about the changes from 2000 to 2011 only. Accounting for inflation, there has been an increase in spending of 40% from 2000 to 2011 (736 million in 2000; 1.03 billion in 2011 (in 2000 dollars)). This is lower than the 50% increase claimed in the study.

Further, the data shows that spending in 2011 and 2012 is actually lower than it was in 2008 (adjusted for inflation). If they want to complain about spending being out of control, they should look to the years 2000 to 2008 when spending increased by 55% adjusted for inflation. Since 2008, spending has decreased by 8 percent!

Of course, that would make this study 5 years too late!

I have created a spreadsheet with my calculations.


  1. Vancouver City Financial Reports
  2. Canada Historical Inflation
  3. CFIB Study


Initially I had stated that spending was up 24% from 2000 to 2011. Actually it is up 40%. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that spending is down since 2008.

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