NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 24, 2004

Two-thirds of the national historic sites and parks managed by the Canadian government are at serious risk, says a report from the Fraser Institute, with one-third of those sites in "urgent need of repair."

The stories of mismanagement and neglect of federal lands is nothing new in the United States, but the problem expands beyond American borders, and some are advocating that Canada?s parks be returned to the private marketplace.

According to researchers Sylvia LeRoy:

  • Sixty percent of Parks Canada's budget goes to salaries alone.
  • Parks Canada's recent decision to increase user fees by 40 percent helps revenues, but the parks become less affordable to Canadians who already paying for their use through their taxes -- therefore, tax cuts would be necessary.
  • Moreover, the increase in user fees will do little to offset the $425 million needed for infrastructure improvement, not to mention the additional $100 million per year for maintenance.

LeRoy suggests that Parks Canada proceed with an idea that was put forth years ago by the Nelson Task Force -- which is to create joint ownership agreements with non-profit groups, Native groups and provinces.

Another alternative is taking advantage of the Employee Takeover (ETO) Policy, which began in 1993, and allows park employees to establish their own companies and bid for jobs against private contractors for renewable, three-year contracts with Parks Canada. It is a money-saving proposition that unions opposed, and the process was abandoned in 1998.

LeRoy notes that while increased user fees are a good start in introducing market mechanisms to national parks, reinstating the ETO Policy would help, too.

Source: Sylvia LeRoy, "Can the Market Save Our Parks?" Fraser Forum, Fraser Institute, April 2004.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues