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From Road to Rinks: Government Spending on Infrastructure in Canada, 1961 to 2005

Canadian Economic Observer

November 12, 200712 November 2007

Issue
Government spending on culture / Facilities / Human resources / Local information

Article Link
http://www.statcan.ca/bsolc/english/bsolc?catno=11-010-X200700910332

This report examines spending on government-owned infrastructure, including cultural infrastructure. A key conclusion of the report is that recent growth in spending on various types of infrastructure “has not been strong enough to prevent more and more signs of wear in our infrastructure”.

Although the report only briefly touches on cultural infrastructure, this issue of the Arts Research Monitor examines the study’s detailed tables in more depth. The tables in the report show that the value of cultural infrastructure, which includes public libraries, historical sites, museums and theatres, accounts for only 2% of all government-owned infrastructure in Canada. About four-fifths of this cultural infrastructure is owned by local governments.

Between 1961 and 2005, spending on government-owned cultural infrastructure grew at a faster rate than any other type of infrastructure. The average annual growth rate for cultural infrastructure was 3.8%, compared with an average of 2.0% for all types of government-owned infrastructure. (All figures in the report are adjusted for inflation.)

The statistics in the report also clearly show that much of the growth in spending on cultural infrastructure occurred in the 1960s, undoubtedly spurred on by Canada’s centennial in 1967. The average annual growth in spending on cultural infrastructure was 6.2% in the 1960s, 5.0% in the 1970s, 3.7% in the 1980s, 1.7% in the 1990s, and only 0.6% between 2001 and 2005.

On a provincial basis, average annual growth in spending on cultural infrastructure (by all three levels of government) was highest in British Columbia and Quebec (4.6%), followed by the Atlantic provinces (3.7%), the Prairie provinces (3.4%), and Ontario (3.2%). In each region (with the exception of B.C.), spending growth was highest in the 1960s. In B.C., average annual growth in cultural spending peaked at 5.2% between 1991 and 2001.

An analysis of the data by level of government shows that, for all three levels of government, the growth in spending on government-owned cultural infrastructure exceeded the overall growth in infrastructure spending. Local spending on government-owned cultural infrastructure grew by an average of 4.5% per year between 1961 and 2005, compared with an average of 3.5% for local spending on all types of infrastructure. Provincial spending on government-owned cultural infrastructure grew by an annual average of 3.6% between 1961 and 2005, higher than the average of 1.4% for provincial spending on all types of infrastructure. Federal spending on government-owned cultural infrastructure grew by an average of 0.5% per year between 1961 and 2005, compared with a decrease of 0.3% for federal spending on all types of infrastructure. (All figures are adjusted for inflation.)

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