Radio-Canada’s Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel revealed that from March 2020 to February 2021, the province of Quebec spent 133.5 million dollars on COVID advertising.
The province of British-Columbia spent just $7.8 million from March 2020 to March 2021, over 17 times less than Quebec over a longer period of time.
The province of Quebec spent $15.57 in COVID advertising per capita, the highest of all other Canadian jurisdictions on record. Health Canada’s spending was $1.12, while Alberta was $3.47, Saskatchewan $1.28, and Newfoundland and Labrador came last at only $0.44.
Ontario refused to disclose its advertising budget.
Quebeckers have noticed the sometimes excessive amount of COVID government advertising in traditional media. Most observers have noted that the government advertising has served as a form of bailout to mainstream media in the province.
In September 2020, the Legault government decided to withdraw COVID advertising from a radio station that criticized the government’s poor handling of the pandemic.
Later on, the hosts of CHOI Radio X who lost the government publicity contract told their audience that they had seen firsthand the advertising contracts. According to them, the contracts included a clause that forbade any criticism of the government’s strict health measures.
Other observers have pointed out that the CAQ government could be using these generous publicity contracts to buy political support from the media. With the exception of CHOI Radio X, the mainstream media in Quebec has largely avoided criticism of the COVID restrictions and pandemic record, despite the province carrying the highest death toll in the country.