$24B spent on security in Canada since 9/11

Canada has spent an extra $24 billion beefing up security measures since the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. soil, CBC News estimates.

Canada has spent an extra $24 billion beefing up security measures since the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. soil, CBC News estimates.

The federal government has never revealed the costs of extra security precautions taken after the 2001 attacks, but CBC calculated the multibillion-dollar figure by tallying budgets from various departments and interviewing sources familiar with defence-related spending.

Domestic security accounted for the largest portion of expenditures at around $15 billion. That amount includes costs such as paying domestic airlines to outfit planes with reinforced doors on pilots' cabins and installing high-tech detection scanners at ports and land crossings.

An increase in the military's budget makes up another big chunk of the spending. After subtracting normal yearly increases in place before Sept. 11, the Canadian military received an estimated $9 billion extra since 2002. The annual rate of military spending in the budget has also doubled. 

The RCMP's annual budget has also risen by close to $1 billion since 2001 and the budget of Canada's intelligence agency, CSIS, has nearly doubled.

Cost calculations

Critics worry that the increased spending of taxpayers' money has cost Canadians in other areas.

"Where is our national child-care program? Where is the pharmacare program? Going into massive rearmament for the military, security apparatus for the border," said Steve Staples, head of the Rideau Institute think-tank.

But Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who chairs the Senate security committee, says the Harper government hasn't spent enough on security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

He cites one example of Canada's response in comparison to the Americans': "We have 14 police officers to patrol the Great Lakes. The Americans have 2,200 to do the same job."

Canada almost immediately felt the financial ripple following al-Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, as the U.S. Congress quickly passed a multibillion-dollar spending bill to revamp domestic security and made it clear Canada was expected to do the same.

Three months later, then prime minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government announced a $7.7-billion program to strengthen Canada's defences against terrorism.

Successive Liberal and Conservative governments continued to increase spending, but Ottawa has kept even the most general information about domestic security spending a secret.

Whether Canada has benefited from the additional security expenditures is up for debate.

"In the world of security and intelligence, there is no cost-benefit analysis," said Wesley Wark, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.

There have been no terrorism attacks in Canada since 2001, Wark said, but it's hard to determine whether that means the threat was exaggerated or if extra defence measures have worked.


  • Colin Kenny is a Liberal senator, not a Conservative MP as was originally reported.
    Mar 24, 2008 12:15 PM ET