John Ivison: Canada spends $29B a year on business subsidies — and half of it is wasted

An important new study has for the first time calculated the total amount the federal government and four largest provinces spend on subsidizing businesses — a staggering $29 billion a year — and it estimates more than half of that spending is wasted.

The aim of the spending in most cases is to improve economic performance. But the analysis by John Lester, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, suggests programs like subsidies to attract foreign companies to shoot movies in Canada don’t work.

“Because government intervention is costly … just under half of overall business subsidies fail to improve economic performance,” he says.