Federal Gov’t Spent $140M on Advertising in the 2021/22 Fiscal Year

By Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.
February 7, 2023Updated: February 7, 2023

The federal Liberals spent $140.8 million on advertising between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, representing the highest amount spent by any federal government in a single year to date, according to an internal report.

“The COVID-19 pandemic remained a high priority, with advertising efforts from the previous two fiscal years continuing for a third fiscal year, to inform Canadians about government programs, services and public health measures as the situation evolved,” said the Public Works Department in the document, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

The report, titled, “Annual Report On Government Of Canada Advertising Activities 2021 to 2022” said the majority of the advertising activities were suspended when the federal general election was called in September 2021 and resumed when the newly elected government was sworn into office.

The total advertising expenditures involved 42 institutions, one Agency of Record for media planning and placement, and 10 creative agencies.

Net media expenditures for placement through the Agency of Record totaled over $120 million and used both digital and traditional media. Television received 27 percent of expenditures across all media types combined—the largest share of any one kind.

Over $62 million, which represented more than half of the total $140.8 million spent on government advertising in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, was used on media placements related to COVID-19 by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

“COVID-19 advertising, which had started in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 and continued in fiscal year 2020 to 2021, carried on with various campaigns throughout fiscal year 2021 to 2022,” said the report.

Of the $62.01 spent on COVID advertising, traditional media received the largest share at 53 percent, which totaled over $32 million, and digital media received 47 percent, or about $30 million.”


The second-highest amount a Canadian government has ever spent on advertising in a single year was in the 2009-2010 fiscal year when Steven Harper’s Conservative government spent just over $136 million.

The third-highest amount was in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, when the Trudeau government spent about $129 million.

An Inquiry of Ministry recently tabled in the House of Commons also showed that PHAC spent over $2.5 million on contracts for various promotional projects related to the ArriveCan app between 2020 and 2022.

The federal public health agency’s advertising contracts, awarded mostly to Quebec-based company Cossette Media, also covered advertisements for public health measures and the vaccine roll-out in addition to ArriveCan promotions.

The same inquiry also showed that Public Services and Procurement Canada spent over $40 million in contracts issued in 2021, some of which are still ongoing, for Health Canada’s marketing and advertising campaigns that were partially related to ArriveCan.