Summary of the evaluation of Canada 150, 2015-16 to 2017-18

Evaluation Services Directorate
August 20, 2020

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Federal Secretariat
Government of Canada
Canadian Heritage


In 2017, the Government of Canada marked the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadian Heritage (PCH) was responsible for Bringing Canadians Together and the slogan was “Celebrate, Participate, and Explore.”

The Federal Secretariat (FS) at PCH was the primary coordinating body and the official source for national Canada 150-related information and celebrations.

The Canada 150 Fund supported three types of projects administered through Major Events, Commemorations and Capital Experience, Regional Offices and the Canada 150 Secretariat:

  1. Signature Initiatives (large scale, pan-Canadian);
  2. Major Events such as:
    1. New Year’s Eve: 2,545,000 TV viewership,
    2. Celebrate Canada events: 6,528,000 TV viewership, 5,850,211 online viewership, and
  3. Community-driven projects.

Priorities of the Fund: Diversity and inclusion; national reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians; engaging and inspiring youth; and our environment.


Canada 150 activities were relevant to Canadians.

89% (in July 2017) and 88% (in January 2018) of Canadians surveyed strongly or somewhat agreed that the federal government was right to recognize and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

There were 4,009 applications for Canada 150 funding.

“Diversity” was most popular Canada 150 priority among PCH recipients.


Achievement of expected outcomes

There was a high level of engagement among Canadians in Canada 150 events, and Canada 150 activities were generally considered to contribute to vibrant communities.

Table 1: projects administered by Region
Region Community-driven projects Major Events Signature Initiatives
Prairies and North Region 54 12 3
Atlantic Region 205 10 1
Western Region 132 10 5
Ontario 148 6 27
Quebec 95 7 5
Table 2: Quorus survey on awareness and communications
Question Wave 1 (June 2016) Wave 2 (July 2017)
Seen, heard or read anything about Canada 150 32% 94%
Seen, heard or read any GC advertising about Canada 150 19% 84%
Aware of Canada 150 logo or brand 16% 83%
Know where to find information about Canada 150 44% 61%
Following Canada 150 on social media 4% 15%
Table 3: monthly social media reach of Canada 150 (in millions)
May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017
157 888 1,681 119

Canada 150 had a major impact on a sustained sense of pride in Canada.

Federal secretariat oversight and coordination

Partners and stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the collaboration and communication and there was a general consensus that Federal Secretariat was effective.

Design and delivery

A networked governance model was effective.

The Communications Strategy led to significant partnerships and, along with paid advertising, resulted in a social media outreach of nearly four billion people. However, the Canada 150 delivery model for communications services was identified as an issue.


Total actual spending for the initiative was lower than planned. The FS was budgeted to spend $14,777,605, but actually spent $14,009,241, resulting in a surplus of $766,709, which represents 0.05% of the budget.

The participation of federal departments and agencies, and the requirement for multiple funders of each Canada 150 Fund project were cost-effective.

Table 4: budgeted versus actual spending for Canada 150 Federal Secretariat
Fiscal year Budgeted Actual
2014-15 $678,721 $609,215
2015-16 $3,306,782 $3,198,742
2016-17 $6,097, 096 $5,868,298
2017-18 $3,986,317 $3,727,648
2018-19 $708,689 $605,338
Total $14,777,605 $14,009,241

Best practices and lessons learned


Future decision-makers need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the various ways to structure and staff a coordinating body to achieve the desired impact.

Delegation of Ministerial authority for smaller grants and contributions can be more efficient.


Cross-sector collaboration (among private sector, other government departments, partners, stakeholders, and delivery organizations) was a key contribution to the success of the Initiative.

An Assistant Deputy Minister level committee is very effective in engaging other government departments.

The administration and awarding of individual grants by community based organizations, which also matched funding, is a best practice.

Objectives, planning and reporting

To support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, PCH should continue to support a broad eligibility for funding that enriches our understanding of Canadian history with many interpretations of the meaning of the past.

In the case of an event with significant funding, legacy projects are seen as having high value.

Should economic objectives be assigned to a large-scale event, a pre-established methodology and systematic data collection is needed to assess economic impact.

More accurate participation and attendance estimates need to be developed and consistently used to better measure impact.

Events bringing together recipients measurement of subsequent corporate engagement and private sector funding.

Design and delivery

Clear staggered deadlines for applications is likely more efficient than continuous intake. A national review committee process can be very efficient. Regional offices’ expertise and delivery capacity should be fully engaged.

Consideration should be given to developing an application process where the level of effort involved in application and payment is proportionate to the size of the amount being awarded.

Small and micro grants

An easy and short online application form increased participation and reduced PCH’s administrative burden.

The development of an algorithm to automate the distribution of microgrants can be repeated and adapted for many funding models.

The assessment of applications should be tailored, since the capacity of charitable or less formal organizations varies.

©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2020.
Catalogue No.: CH7-65/1-2020E-PDF
ISBN: 978-0-660-36000-3

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