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Governments racked up a collective surplus of $29 billion last year

OTTAWA (CP) - The country's governments, from Parliament Hill to city hall, racked up a collective surplus of $29 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, a billion more than in 2006.

Statistics Canada said it's only the second time in 20 years that the combined surplus - covering federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments and the Canada and Quebec pension plans - has been that high. Two-thirds of the total surplus was on the books of the federal government and the pension plans.

The governments together collected $603 billion and spent $575 billion.

About 72 per cent of the spending went to health, education, social services and debt charges.

Education spending rose 10.2 per cent to $90 billion last year, the largest annual percentage increase among the four components, while health spending was up 7.9 per cent to $107 billion.

However, the report says health spending jumped 39 per cent over the last five years, the highest increase among the four.

Spending on social services last year totalled $172 billion with more than two-thirds of that coming from the federal government and the two pension plans

Debt charges ate 7.6 cents out of every dollar of government revenues in 2007, down from 7.9 cents in 2006.

Spending overall increased 4.9 per cent in 2007, while revenues grew by 4.7 per cent. Over the last five years, however, revenues increased 29 per cent, with spending up only 25 per cent.

While governments collectively recorded a surplus, not all budgets were in the black.

The largest consolidated provincial, territorial and local surpluses were in Alberta - $8.7 billion to the good - and British Columbia - with $600 million.

The largest deficits were in Quebec ($2.5 billion) and Nova Scotia ($100 million).

© The Canadian Press, 2007
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