Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s Property Rights Index reveals gaps in Canada’s protections

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a non-partisan think tank based in Winnipeg, today released its Canadian Property Rights Index (CPRI), a groundbreaking index that serves as a comprehensive measurement of property rights protections across Canada. The Index offers insights into the significance of property rights for individuals and the overall economic well-being of the country.

The updated CPRI incorporates seven vital indicators, including the Land Title System, Expropriation, Regulatory Takings, Municipal Power of Entry, Civil Forfeiture, Endangered Species, and Heritage Property. By meticulously evaluating these aspects, the Index provides a detailed analysis of property rights safeguards at the provincial and territorial levels.

Private-property-rights index Frontier Centre

Photo by Gene Gallin

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Joseph Quesnel

Joseph Quesnel

In particular, the CPRI assesses the strength of land title systems, recognizing the superiority of Torrens systems over deeds systems. “The main advantage of a Torrens system,” said Joseph Quesnel, a senior research associate with the Frontier Centre and author of the Index, “is the presence of a land registry which provides certainty to title. The government guarantees the accuracy of the registry and compensates those affected by any errors in the record. Also, the transactions are simplified and less costly.”

The Index also examines procedural safeguards that protect individuals’ land titles, evaluates the level of protection offered during formal expropriation processes, and examines regulatory takings that limit landowners’ property usage and diminish their land values.

Procedural safeguards pertaining to municipal power of entry, civil forfeiture, endangered species, and heritage property are also taken into account. By evaluating these seven key criteria, the CPRI enables easy comparisons between jurisdictions, providing a comprehensive overview of property rights protection across the country.

Regrettably, the Index reveals that certain provinces and territories in Canada lack the necessary safeguards for property rights, ultimately hindering economic freedom. Notably, the CPRI highlights an east-west divide, with western provinces leading the rankings. While Nova Scotia secures the second position, the Atlantic provinces are found to be lagging. Addressing this issue requires a firm commitment to limited government and an informed, vigilant public that demands stronger property rights protections.

“Our results,” Quesnel said, “show that the Western provinces have stronger property rights protection than the Eastern provinces. This was also borne out in our first Index. Perhaps this is historical, as these provinces came into Confederation later and implemented the stronger Torrens system of title registration. There could also be social and political reasons or demographic factors. It could be explained by a more frontier-type mentality that respects individual property rights in general, or it could be due to a strong rural population.”

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is proposing several policy recommendations, including the enshrinement of property rights in the Canadian constitution, implementing measures to control regulatory takings, and establishing an organization dedicated to monitoring, educating, and safeguarding property rights.

“By adopting these recommendations, enhanced economic freedom and prosperity can be fostered for all Canadians,” Quesnel said.

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