Andrew Sharpe and
France St-Hilaire Additional contact information Keith Banting: School of Public Policy Studies, Queen’s University
France St-Hilaire: The Institutute for Research on Public Policy, http://www.irpp.org/
The 1990s was a long decade in Canada. It was a period of transitions and turbulence, of seismic shifts in the Canadian economy and dramatic changes in many longstanding public programs. It was also a decade in which Canadians' attitudes toward their economic future and their expectations of government seemed to evolve in new and uncharted directions. The decade began with a deep, prolonged recession yet it ended with the return of strong economic growth. The basic structure of the Canadian economy was being reshaped by forces felt around the world, such as trade liberalization, globalization and technological change. The 1990s also saw major changes in public policy. Most importantly, the basic strategy guiding macroeconomic policy shifted dramatically. Monetary authorities adopted price stability as their primary objective, producing restrictive inflation targets and high interest rates compared to many other countries. Fiscal policy was also tightened sharply, as federal and provincial governments moved aggressively to eliminate longstanding deficits, mainly through deep cuts to public expenditures.
The purpose of this introduction is twofold. First, it provides a synthesis of what the editors see as the main themes that emerge from the different chapters, including a discussion of the implications for public policy and second, it provides a detailed overview of the main findings of all chapters in the volume. The chapters are written by leading experts in the field and provide more detailed views of specific dimensions of the economic and social developments of the 1990s. The chapters are organized into four sections dealing with basic concepts, the public view of economic and social trends, changes in key public policies, and the outcomes in terms of the economic, social and environmental record of the 1990s.