Large cash and investment stash puts Yukon first in Canada

The Yukon is wealthier than any other jurisdiction in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. That includes Alberta.

The Yukon is wealthier than any other jurisdiction in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

That includes Alberta.

The data, released Tuesday,  measures financial assets, like cash and investments.

After all that is measured against liabilities, like outstanding loans and pension payouts, the Yukon government is the wealthiest in Canada, per capita.

The news comes at the end of a legislative session dominated by financial issues — from shaky investments, critical audits and dubious contract interference.

“The Yukon is in a good situation, financially,” said Philippe Samborski, a federal government economist.

“It’s stable. These numbers are indicators of the financial situation in the provinces.”

With total financial assets pegged at $336 million, the Yukon has $10,839 per person in cash and investments.

Only two other provinces — Alberta and Northwest Territories — had no financial debt in the survey.

Alberta has about $8,200 in financial assets per capita.

Statistics Canada studied the net financial debt of each province and territory, defined as the excess of liabilities over financial assets.

The study did not take into account capital costs and assets, said Samborski.

It doesn’t necessarily have more cash at its disposal, he said.

“The study isn’t saying the Yukon has more money per capita than any other province or territory,” he said.

“It’s a measure to give people an idea of financial health compared to others.”

Total financial debt for provinces and territories reached $253 billion in March 31, 2006, down $6 billion or 2.3 per cent compared to the previous year.

The debt reached a 15-year low when taken as a percentage of gross domestic product, dropping from 19.4 per cent in 2005 to 17.7 per cent in 2006.

The Yukon has steadily grown its financial assets over the last several years.

In 2000, financial assets combined for a total of $230 million, which has increased more than $100 million in seven years.

The numbers give a good picture of government finances, said Clarke LePrairie, the Yukon’s assistant deputy minister in office of financial operations and revenue services.

“The message is, we’re at the top of the list for financial health,” he said.

“We haven’t seen such strong numbers for half a decade or so. The five-year view is that we’re fairly steady.”

Compared to other provinces that are posting massive surplus budgets, the territory’s debt-free status puts it above the rest, added LePrairie.

“When you look at Newfoundland, they’re spending 10 per cent of the budget just to pay down its debt instead of using the money for programming,” he said.

Quebec and Ontario have about $103 billion and $122 billion in financial debt, respectively. 

The numbers from Statistics Canada may not exactly match those coming from the territorial government because it uses a different accounting system in order to accurately compare jurisdictions.

The study included financial resources of Yukon College, government corporations and the Whitehorse General Hospital.