It’s important to be transparent that this Shared Measurement System was designed from a non-Indigenous worldview and we recognize that Indigenous ways of knowing are absent from it. For more information on this positioning, see our Right Relations page.
Government spending on environmental protection is an important measure of the public’s commitment to maintaining the quality of the environment. Governments spend money on behalf of their citizens in response to the public’s demand for protection of the environment and restoration of past damage to it.
Statistics Canada measures several categories of government environmental protection expenditures (see, e.g. this link):
- solid waste management
- pollution abatement
- wastewater management
- protection of biodiversity and landscape, and
- other environmental protection.
While spending in all of these categories is important, for this impact measure, we focused on protection of biodiversity and landscape, where Statistics Canada’s figures reveal how much governments spend on:
- activities relating to the protection of fauna and flora
- the protection of habitats (including the management of natural parks and reserves), and
- the protection and rehabilitation of landscapes (including abandoned mine sites) for their aesthetic value.
Spending on biodiversity and landscape protection clearly reflects Canadians’ commitment to preserving ecosystem quality and, where it has been degraded, to restoring it.
In addition to measuring government spending on environmental protection, Statistics Canada also measures government spending on a wide range of other activities. Among these is spending on fuel and energy programs.
This provides useful context for spending on biodiversity and landscape protection, since they – in many ways – are opposite sides of the same government coin. Spending on fuel and energy programs represents government support for activities that seek to exploit the environment for its goods and services, while spending on biodiversity and landscape protection represents support for the maintenance of those goods and services.
When considering data on spending, it is important to recognize that we cannot simply look at annual expenditures and compare them over time. To get a clear picture of changing levels of commitment, the effect of inflation first has to be taken out of the figures. It is helpful to go one step further and eliminate the effect of a growing population, since – other things being equal – more people means a bigger economy and a bigger economy means more government expenditure. For these reasons, Statistics Canada’s figures on government spending have been adjusted for use here to take both price increases and population growth into account.
Last updated December 2019