Statistics Canada releases geographical breakdown of federal S&T spending

Guest Contributor
March 18, 2002

Federal distribution of S&T is gradually becoming more equitable, with gains in Alberta and British Columbia marginally decreasing the dominance of Ontario, Quebec and the National Capital Region (NCR). The latest Statistics Canada data show that the combined Ontario and Quebec share of federal S&T expenditures in FY99-00 remains just below 60% of the provincial/territorial distribution, while the NCR share of the total for that year is 34.3%, down from 37.2% in FY98-99.

In total, the federal government spent $6.252 billion on S&T in FY99-00. Of that amount, $5.640 billion (90.2%) is assigned geographically. The remaining 9.2% is accounted for as payments abroad ($229 million) and other ($383 million).

Of the geographically assigned federal S&T spending, the government performs $3.658 billion or 64.8% in-house. That’s followed by Canadian universities ($1.097 billion or 19.4%), business enterprise ($677 million or 12.0%) and other (3.7%).

Over the six-year period shown in the larger chart below, British Columbia has increased its share of federal S&T (excluding the NCR) from 12.4% to 14.3%. Similarly, Alberta enjoyed an increase in the same period, boosting its share from 7.1% to 8.1%. Saskatchewan also showed a significant increase, rising from 3.1% to 3.5%. The shares of Manitoba and all four Atlantic provinces dropped during the six-year period as federal spending in these areas remained relatively flat or declined.

Ontario and Quebec remain at the same level in FY99-00 as it held in FY94-5 (59.6%), although their combined share rose as high as 61.7% in FY97-8. In the battle between the two central provinces, Ontario is clearly winning. In FY94-5, Ontario commanded 34.6% of the total, while Quebec was home to 24.9%. Six years later, Ontario’s share had increased to 36.4%, while Quebec dropped to 22.6%.

If their relative portion of the NCR expenditures are factored in, Ontario was home to 53.2% of federal S&T spending in FY99-00 that is geographically assigned, compared to 19.9%% for Quebec.


StatsCan began splitting off federal S&T expenditures for the NCR several years ago on the grounds that the predominance of federal labs in the region unfairly skewed the data. The fact that the vast majority of spending occurred on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River has long been a politically charged bone of contention on Parliament Hill, with Quebec MPs (mainly from the Bloc Québecois) crying foul.

The data from FY99-00 should therefore be reason for optimism for those who support more federal S&T spending in Quebec. Ontario’s share, while still the vast majority, slipped significantly from the year before, dropping from 87.2% to 85.2%. The reasons for the shift are not obvious, but likely are due to the re-location of laboratory activity to the Quebec part of the region or an increase in S&T spending by a Quebec-based department or agency.

The natural sciences account for $4.435 billion or 78.6% of all geographically assigned federal S&T. Of that amount, just over $1 billion is spent in the NCR. The federal government performs $2.648 billion or 59.7% of all natural sciences S&T, followed by Canadian universities ($973 million) business enterprises ($677 million) and other ($147 million).

For the social sciences, the vast majority of $1.205 billion in federal expenditures occurs within the NCR. Social sciences spending in the NCR is $923 million with just $282 million being spent elsewhere. The majority of NCR social science spending is performed by Statistics Canada.

Of the $677 million in federal S&T spent by businesses, $285 million went to Ontario, followed by Quebec ($164 million), British Columbia ($146 million) and Alberta ($26 million), Atlantic provinces ($30 million), Manitoba ($14 million), Saskatchewan ($11 million) and the territories ($1 million).


Federal S&T Spending by Province/Territory

($ millions)



Prince Edward Island211615121720

Nova Scotia191188186163200192

New Brunswick797662607576






British Columbia402366332354446529

Yukon, NWT & Nunavut221316151520

Total (excluding NCR)3,2393,0472,9943,0003,2823,703

National Capital Region1,7221,7591,7961,6581,9421,937

Total (including NCR)4,9614,8064,7904,6585,2245,640

Source: Statistics Canada 88-001-XIB Vol. 24, No. 12

National Capital Region S&T Distribution

($ millions)
Ontario %86.686.686.887.187.285.2
Quebec %13.413.413.212.912.814.8
NCR Total1,722.01,759.01,796.01,658.01,942.01,937.0
Source: Statistics Canada 88-XIB Vol. 24, No. 12

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