Chart 7 shows, for each constituency, how the proportion of respondents who felt that particular fiscal solutions required more emphasis changed over the period 1996, 1998, and 2000.
The continuing economic expansion which Canada has experienced in the last year has brought with it some interest rate increases, which in turn has prompted private sector business respondents to suggest that lowering interest rates be given greater attention. The proportion of private sector business respondents citing Lower Interest Rates as an area for greater attention doubled between 1998 and 2000, from 15% to 31%. Among other constituencies, however, there was no similar increase in concern in this area; for most constituencies the priority for reduced interest rates remained about the same as, or even slightly lower than, 1998. It must be noted, of course, that the labour constituency continued to place a greater priority on lower interest rates than the management respondents, even in spite of the increased private sector business concern.
Despite governments’ continuing efforts at Reducing Government Spending since 1998, most constituencies maintained, or even slightly increased, their support for this as a policy solution in 2000. Policies implemented to date do not appear to have reduced the priority many constituencies attach to these activities. Over the longer horizon, the success of government spending restraint meant that most respondents in 2000 attached less priority to this than they had four years earlier. Nevertheless, private sector business respondents continued to be by far the most insistent of the constituencies in promoting this as an important policy direction, while public sector labour representatives were least so. Private sector labour and public sector management respondents attached the same level of importance to reduced government spending - a notable convergence of view from 1996, when there was an almost 20 percentage point difference in their views.
Management and labour respondents continued to differ on their views regarding Lower Taxes. The former, especially private sector business respondents, continued to give relatively high priority to lowering taxes, while labour respondents emphasized tax solutions to a much smaller degree. These perspectives changed very little since 1998. On the labour side, however, since 1996 there has been some convergence of view between public and private sector labour respondents on the importance of lowering taxes.
Chart 8 illustrates how the proportions of respondents who felt that particular labour market solutions required more emphasis changed between 1996, 1998, and 2000.
The responses to this question are best viewed in the context of respondents’ earlier attitudes to Skill Shortages and the seriousness of the Quality of Education and Workplace Training. Here it will be recalled that concern over skill shortages rose for most constituencies between 1998 and 2000, while concerns about the quality of education and workplace training tended to decline.