A report regarding the cost of the federal firearms buyback program is still lacking critical details and data for an accurate estimate.
The firearms buyback program was introduced to provide compensation to owners for the confiscation of their “military-style” firearms that were prohibited by an Order-in-Council by the Trudeau government. But as of press time, many details are still unknown.
Report causes confusion
A Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) report, created in response to a request by Member of Parliament Glen Motz Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, estimated costs of the federal firearms buyback program to be as high as $756 million. According to the PBO, however, there were too many uncertainties regarding process, numbers, and dispersion of firearms to come up with a reliable estimate.
The PBO says it used two vastly different datasets, one from the Government of Canada and the other from the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association. The former estimated that there were 150,000 affected firearms while the later identified 518,000. The PBO was not able to reconcile the differences.
Two potential pricing structures were also used, though it is unknown if either will be used when the program is put in effect. One was based on firearm condition and the other on market value. “Depending on the number of affected firearms in Canada, the take-up rate, and the pricing structure used, the estimated cost of firearm compensation under the buy-back program ranges from $47 million to $756 million,” noted the report.
Estimates to be updated
Due to the lack of details regarding implementation of the program, the PBO looked at other jurisdictions that had completed buyback programs, notably New Zealand. The report also pointed out that the analysis did not include program administration costs, potential compensation for firearm ammunition, parts, or business losses and also noted that costs would be affected by the dispersion of the firearms across Canada.
In the end, the PBO promised to monitor details of the program and additional data as it becomes available and update cost estimates accordingly.
Even so, the uncertainty is worrisome to critics.
“We can’t help but feel like this is long gun registry 2.0. The cost estimates keep growing and there is still a high degree of uncertainty. If the government is willing to spend upwards of a billion dollars during post-pandemic recovery, then Canadians deserve to see that money spent in a targeted and meaningful way that tackles gun violence and illegal firearms directly on our streets, at our borders, in our justice system, and through social programs,” said Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMille.