Media Release: 50% of Canadians’ Wealth is Not Protected from Expropriation

Commentary, Frontier Centre, Housing Affordability, Press Release, Property Rights, Role of Government, Rural

Winnipeg: In a review of the wealth and property in Canada, a new study notes that over 50% of the personal wealth held by Canadians is held in real estate according to a new study from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. The study, authored by Ottawa-based consultant Stephanie Farrington, notes that much of that personal property wealth is based primarily, but not exclusively, in home ownership.

Critically however, the Frontier Centre policy series Subject to Approval: Real Property Rights in Canada, notes that while Canada followed in the British tradition of respecting private property, Canadians actually possess few enforceable rights to private property.

“In Canada, real property ownership resembles real property ownership in the United Kingdom more closely than it resembles real property ownership in the United States,” notes Farrington. “It is important to use the term ‘real property ownership’ to remind ourselves of our limited rights to the property we think of as our own. When a person buys and sells real property under current Canadian law, that person has more rights to the buildings and attachments than to the land itself.”

The 14-page policy series notes that the lack of actual property rights is especially noticeable in rural Canada. For rural land owners, the emphasis on Canada’s growing resource economy and a heightened sensitivity to the environmental features of the land mean property rights in rural areas are continuing to erode.

If Canadians are to have functional property rights, Farrington notes laws must be changed to guarantee of fair compensation for expropriated lands. Specifically, Farrington recommends the following changes:

  • Compensation should be calculated based upon the value of the property to the expropriating authority, the tenure of the property owners, and the impact on their income and not the value of the property if it were empty or as it was when the owner purchased it;
  • Fair and consistent laws regarding compensation at the municipal, provincial and federal level for expropriations.

Farrington notes the latter are critically needed in order to protect the investment, security and income of Canadian families in all regions of the country.

Copies of the Frontier Centre backgrounder, Subject to Approval: Real Property Rights in Canada, can be downloaded free at

For more information, contact the study author Stephanie Farrington at: