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Rus Slater

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How is this for an example of Return On Investment at Kirkpatrick Level 4?


The Canada Border Services Agency spent C$143 million (US$143.3 million) training its 1,568 border guards to bear firearms -- This works out to around C$91,199 per guard.

The rationale for the investment in the training argues that

a) staff need to be armed in order to protect themselves and the public when facing dangerous situations and therefore

b) guards need to be adequately trained in gun use and safety.  

Since this training began there have been only 100 occasions when an officer has needed to draw a weapon. A return on investment of C$1.43 million per occasion.

Records show that there has only been one occasion when a weapon was actually used; according to the Welland Tribune newspaper this was to put an injured moose out of its misery.

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says that, "The cost per person is just so large it merits serious question."


5 Responses

  1. Precautionary training


    Precautionary activity is always hard to evaluate. 99.9% of pilots who are taught to land on water never use that skill. A simple ROI construct does not suffice in such circumstances. One might consider the cost of not doing the training – a calculation worth considering for a lot of training that is necessary but is not specifically designed to add value.

    In your specific case example I think there are two questions: i) do the guards need to be armed? and, ii) therefore, do they need to be trained? The question of value is primarily attached to the first question – which is a policy question, not a training question. Once that decision has been made, then of course armed guards need to be trained in how to use their weapons (though how much this training should cost is not something I am qualified to comment upon).

    I think it is wrong in such circumstances to question the value of the training. But this is something that happens all too often. The criticism, or otherwise, should be addressed to the policy makers. Any questions relating to the training are of a second order.

    The other tricky aspect of basic ROI assumptions are related to what success looks like. Having very few incidents may be a consequence of the guards being armed, and/or of the quality of their guarding training. I recall one organisation intruducing training around harassment and bullying. In the months that followed the number of complaints went up. Clearly the long term aim would be to reduce this type of behaviour as well as giving people clarity about what happens when such incidences occur. But, in the short term, one might argue that increased reporting of these events is a mark of the success of the programme. Sometimes success can run counter to what you might at first consider.

    As to those Canadian guards, which would be the least worst outcome, high expenditure on weapons training and low use of weapons or low expenditure and increased security risk? If one could be sure that low expenditure would still mean low problems, then of course that is the best option. But if you cannot be sure, especially in today’s climate, which would you go for? Which risk would you weigh as greatest – expending money to save lives or expending lives to save money?


  2. costs of firearms training

    — Breda Leyne – Cogito Development Projects

    I totally agree with Graham as in some cases it is the risk of not training someone which is the issue. The cost of a life lost by firing in error is measurable by law and the costs of the resultant  litigation may need to be factored into the equation.  As someone who has worked with the Police in this country (UK) the costs of their firearms training seem to be way over the top.  Our national firearms training advisors should maybe contact the Canadians and offer to save them some money!


  3. ROI & Kirkpatrick

    Imagine you are the wife or husband of one of those border guards.  They were shot and killed in the line of duty because they had not been trained correctly to use the weapon.  Would you agree that not spending the money on training was ok or fight like hell to get more money for training?

    The vast majority of soldiers do not in fact fire their weapons yet they are trained to do so.

    A 9mm Glock 17C is about $460 so equipping all 1,558 would cost $721,280.  (I am sure you could get a discount for bulk purchase!) The ammunition for operational (100 rnds per person) and training use (500 rnds per person) would be in the region of 930,00 rnds or about $0.40c per rnd for high quality ammunition. This gives $372,000. Again dicount for bulk puchase as 9mm is a standard NATO rnd and probably manufactured in Canada anyway for the armed forces.

    A grand total of $1,093,280.  

    What I would question is the procurement policy of the Canadians in spending so much training & equipping one person – C$91,199. Are the figures correct?

    (If you have any contacts out there I’d be happy to train all 1,568 of them in the use of Glock pistols for C$150,000)



    — Thanks Andrew Miller

  4. Gun Use Training

    I think this question is not so much about the cost of the training but about the culture of a country that, despite evidence to the contrary, believes gun-power is necessary for its border guards.

  5. @ Andrew Miller

    You have a frightening knowledge Andrew of the cost of high performance weaponry. Is it something you generally use in class as a form of development and feedback? Fascinating!!!!

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Rus Slater


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