Ottawa, as it prepares to unveil the 2017 federal budget this week, faces an important choice: Take some first steps to slaying its growing deficit or sink further into fiscal quicksand.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is a thought leader on fiscal responsibility and the need for balanced budgets in Canada.

“Just because the federal government’s public finances are relatively strong does not mean that more spending and ongoing deficits are the right plan for Canada”, writes Sean Speer, an MLI Munk Senior Fellow, in a recent commentary.

“A program for inclusive growth should not be written in red ink”.

MLI released the seminal video on the benefits of balanced budgets a few years ago. The Canadian Century (and its accompanying book) explained how reducing spending and balancing the budget set Canada up for an unprecedented streak of growth.

If Ottawa’s looking for ways to rein in spending, one area that’s ripe for improvement is tax expenditures. Speer, in a recent paper, outlined a basic checklist that will help the government decide which tax credits, deductions, and other special provisions (known as tax expenditures) should be eliminated – and which preserved or fixed – to make the tax system better, fairer, and simpler.

Which path will Ottawa take? We’ll all find out on March 22.