Learning from Canada

I have just returned from a great holiday in Canada (and Seattle, WA) so that seems a good reason to mention this article about how the UK Government was looking at the Canadian government tackled its own budget problems in the second half of the '90s.

You can get the full report from the Institute of Government website here. I guess the most important thing is to learn the lessons from others' experience and these are neatly summarised by the Institute for Government as:

  • "it is a societal project – it involves an open and inclusive approach that engages the whole of government, and not just a small number of people working in relative secrecy.
  • "a large scale programme makes possible reforms that alone would not normally be possible
  • "speed is important if there is a high level of consensus in society – it creates light at the end of the tunnel
  • "a high degree of prudence was built around Programme Review
  • "luck – the Canadians were lucky there were no major external shocks during the time
  • "it is possible to lead ambitious reforms and make choices in a principled and defensive way, rather than just make easy, unsustainable cuts."