Wellbeing Budgets in New Zealand and Canada: What Can Municipalities Learn?
Budgeting is a key process for all governments. While the budget balance can indicate a government’s overall fiscal health, financial indicators alone do not provide a full picture of how people and the natural environment are doing. Researchers have argued that measures of wellbeing are needed to complement existing economic and social indicators.
New Zealand has made wellbeing the overarching objective of its national budget by combining standard of living metrics with traditional fiscal indicators in the budgeting process. Municipalities in Canada, which provide an array of services that directly affect human and environmental health, could learn from New Zealand’s experience with wellbeing budget implementation as they confront unprecedented economic, social, and environmental challenges. Wellbeing budgeting could also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policies and programs.
On November 29, 2023, Richard M. Bird Post-Doctoral Fellow, Stephanie Ortynsky, outlined how New Zealand adopted and implemented its innovative wellbeing approach to budgeting, described where Canada stands on wellbeing budgets, and discussed how municipalities could benefit from considering their budget decisions holistically.
Stephanie Ortynsky is the 2023-24 Richard M. Bird Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. She received her PhD in public policy from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina in 2023. Stephanie has worked on several research, evaluation, and knowledge mobilization projects in Saskatchewan, Switzerland, South Africa, and Tajikistan. Prior to joining IMFG, Stephanie taught graduate-level courses in policy analysis, public sector financial management, and statistics for public managers.