PBO estimates cost of firearm compensation could reach over $750 million

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) today released his estimate, under various scenarios, of the cost of firearm compensation as part of the Government’s proposed firearm buy-back program.

During the 2019 election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada announced its plan to ban all military-style assault rifles, including the AR-15, and to introduce a buy-back program to purchase the legally owned firearms at fair market value. Earlier this year, the Government tabled Bill C-21 which provides a legislative framework for the control of firearms.

PBO’s analysis relies on two independent datasets obtained from the Government and industry. The Government estimates that there are roughly 150,000 affected firearms, and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) estimates approximately 518,000. The variance largely relates to the difference in estimated non-registered firearms in Canada.

In his report, Cost Estimate of the Firearm Buy-Back Program, the PBO applied sensitivity analysis by varying take-up rates across two potential pricing structures – a tiered model where compensation is based on firearm condition, and a second where compensation is based on the market value of the firearm.

“Depending on the number of affected firearms in Canada, the take-up rate, and the pricing structure used, the estimated total compensation under the buy-back program could amount to $756 million, in addition to administration costs”, said Yves Giroux, PBO.

Details regarding how the voluntary buy-back program will be implemented remain unclear. As such, it is currently impossible to estimate the program administration costs.