A $67.5-Billion Annual Investment in Canadian Society


New research suggests religion produces measurable economic contributions to the common good


September 21, 2020

OTTAWA, ON – Amid pandemic-related job loss and economic worries, new research suggests there is a sector of Canadian society that plays an important, but often unrecognized, economic role: religion. The Hidden Economy: How Faith Helps Fuel Canada’s GDP, a new report from think tank Cardus, finds that religion’s annual contribution to Canadian society is worth an estimated $67.5 billion. That’s large enough to be the ninth biggest enterprise in the country – ahead of the Bank of Montreal.

The $67.5 billion figure is the mid-range estimate in The Hidden Economy: How Faith Helps Fuel Canada’s GDP. More than half of the $67.5 billion figure comes from the activities of tens of thousands of religious congregations (churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues) in Canada. Nationwide, they have a $35-billion “halo effect” – the value congregations provide to their surrounding communities.

Canadian Religious Congregations’ Halo Effect

Individual Impact

  • Promoting health and well-being
  • Decreasing drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, and domestic violence

$13.36 billion

Child Care & Educational Activities

  • Daycare services and seasonal day camps

$7.68 billion

Direct Spending

  • Employing local residents and using local vendors

$7.05 billion

Magnet Effect

  • Pulling people and economic activity into communities; through weddings, funerals, and other events

$5.89 billion

Invisible Social Safety Net

  • Supporting immigrants and refugees
  • Food banks and soup kitchens
  • Housing support

$1.23 billion

Outdoor Spaces

  • Increasing community aesthetics
  • Reducing stormwater runoff treatment costs
  • Providing recreational possibilities

$0.04 billion


$35.25 billion

The halo effect of religious congregations is a well-studied phenomenon. For more information on the halo effect in Canada, including municipality-specific calculations, please visit haloproject.ca.

The balance of religion’s estimated $67.5 billion contribution to Canadian society comes through activities related to schooling, health care systems, charities, media, lives saved through congregational substance abuse support programs, as well as kosher and halal food sales.

“Religion is an active force in the public, professional, and private lives of many Canadians and contributes to the common good of all, including those who are not religious,” said Brian Dijkema, vice president of external relations at Cardus. “If religious activity is hindered—through zoning, regulation, taxation, or even intolerance—there are massive economic spill-over effects that negatively affect Canadians as a whole. We all benefit economically when religious life thrives.”

The Hidden Economy: How Faith Fuels Canada’s GDP is freely available online.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508

About Cardus
Cardus is a non-partisan, faith-based think tank and registered charity dedicated to promoting a flourishing society through independent research, robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary. To learn more, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.