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How Canada’s Religious Congregations Produce $18.2 Billion Worth of Benefits for All


June 8, 2022

OTTAWA, ON – Canada’s religious congregations contribute an estimated $18.2 billion worth of benefits to their surrounding communities, according to newly updated calculations at The dollars-and-cents measurement of the good that synagogues, mosques, churches, temples, gurdwaras, and other religious congregations produce for all Canadians is known as the Halo Effect. These benefits include religious congregations’ involvement in soup kitchens, immigrant and refugee settlement, addiction programs, providing community space for outside organizations and groups, and even supporting local businesses.

“It’s easy to pass by a church or temple of some kind in your neighbourhood and just admire the architecture, not stopping to consider just what an effect the folks who worship there have on the surrounding area,” says Dr. Lisa Richmond, vice-president of research at think tank Cardus. “The updated calculations at the are a good reminder that religiously motivated activity goes well beyond holding worship services, creating measurable benefits for all Canadians.”

According to the new calculations at, for every dollar a religious congregation spends, the surrounding community gets an estimated $5.02 worth of benefits in rural areas and an estimated $3.32 worth of benefits in urban areas. Applying those multipliers to all 20,400 houses of worship in Canada (with annual budgets of at least $33,000) results in an estimated national Halo Effect worth $18.2 billion.

Cardus has been publishing research on the Halo Effect of religious congregations since 2016. Data on congregations’ budgets comes from the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return that houses of worship submit to the Canada Revenue Agency. Researchers then consider 41 distinct ways that houses of worship spend their budgets, which fall into seven broad categories:

  • open space (e.g. recreational use)
  • direct spending
  • educational programs (e.g. a daycare on site)
  • magnet effect (e.g. spending by visitors attending weddings, funerals, etc.)
  • individual impact (e.g. helping immigrant and refugee families settle in Canada; marriage and family counseling)
  • community development (e.g. job-training, housing initiatives)
  • social capital and care (e.g. programs that benefit people in the surrounding community, volunteer activities, food banks)

Visit the to calculate the Halo Effect of any individual religious congregation, or even a group of congregations by postal code, city, province, or territory.


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