Balsillie Prize for Public Policy

Winner: $60,000; Finalists: $5,000

A prize of $60,000 will be awarded annually to a book of nonfiction that advances and influences policy debates on social, political, economic, and/or cultural topics relevant to Canadians. This prize celebrates work that displays originality in several respects, including subject, approach, analysis, and voice, and which offers a thought-provoking contribution to an issue that impacts on both public consciousness and Canadian policymakers. The winning book will combine new insights with depth and breadth of research. The prize especially values works that bring public policy issues to the general reading public. The jurors will shortlist three titles. Prizes of $5,000 will be awarded to each of the finalists.

COVID-19 Update

Due to the ongoing pandemic, jurors are reading all submissions to the 2021 Balsillie Prize for Public Policy via eReader. Please ensure that each uploaded eBook is in its most final form before submitting. You will be contacted after the final deadline of July 14, 2021 for further instructions on how to send two copies of each submitted title in book form to the Writers’ Trust.

The 2021 award winner will likely be announced online via a digital event.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Titles must be published between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Titles that are not yet in final published form by the deadline of July 14 may be submitted as uncorrected proofs.
  • Books must be English-language, first-edition trade books, written by Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Previous publication in another country does not disqualify a book.
  • Translations from other languages into English are eligible and will be considered in the year in which the English translation is published. In the event of a translation winning the prize, the prize money will be divided as follows: $45,000 to the author, $15,000 to the translator.
  • To be eligible to submit books for consideration, publishing houses must have a professional editorial process independent from the authors whose books are submitted. They must not charge authors for publishing.
  • Imprints must be editorially independent to be permitted to submit books in addition to submissions from their parent company.
  • All books must have an ISBN and be available in Canadian bookstores for some duration between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
  • Titles may be single-authored or co-authored. Multi-authored collections, anthologies, and conference proceedings are not eligible.
  • Self-published books are not eligible.
  • Ghostwritten books are not eligible.
  • Books written for children are not eligible.
  • No more than 20% of the manuscript can be previously published in book form.
  • Books whose author was deceased at the time of publication are not eligible.
  • Publishers should note that the prize is for literary excellence; they should only submit books deemed outstanding in this regard.

Please note submissions are now open.

The schedule for submissions corresponds to publication dates as follows:


Deadline 1: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
For books published between October 1, 2020 and March 9, 2021

Deadline 2: Wednesday, May 19, 2021
For books published between March 10, 2021 and May 18, 2021

Deadline 3: Wednesday, July 14, 2021
For books published between May 19, 2021 and September 30, 2021

Publishers are strongly encouraged to submit titles prior to the deadlines. Submissions upon release of titles are appreciated. If a publisher, for any reason whatsoever, feels they cannot submit titles in accordance with the above schedule it is requested that they contact the program coordinator to discuss alternate arrangements or the possibility of an extension.

Number of Submissions

All publishers of original manuscripts may enter two books by Canadian authors. Companies publishing more than ten eligible nonfiction titles may add one book for every additional ten eligible books (or fraction thereof) on their nonfiction list, up to a maximum of five. See below for reference. This is dependent on the number of titles published between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.

10 or fewer books published – eligible to submit 2
11-20 books published – eligible to submit 3
21-30 books published – eligible to submit 4
31+ books published – eligible to submit 5

Required Materials

The following must be submitted by the final deadline of July 14, 2021:

  • A completed Balsillie Prize for Public Policy online submission form listing all submitted titles and planned submissions. There is no need to print a paper copy.
  • A digital copy of each title attached to the online submission form in non-protected EPUB (preferred) or non-protected PDF format.
  • A spreadsheet listing all nonfiction titles published during the prize eligibility period (October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021) with their authors and publication dates. This full list is necessary for verifying the number of titles a publisher is eligible to submit.
  • Images of the author and book cover suitable for reproduction in print materials (300dpi). Please name each file “Policy_AuthorLastName_FirstName” and “Policy_AuthorLastName_BookTitle”. Upload files smaller than 10 GB via our web form.
  • Publishers will be contacted after the final deadline of July 14, 2021 with instructions on how to send two copies of each submitted title in book form to the Writers’ Trust. Please do not send copies until contacted by the prize manager.

Jury Composition

A three-person jury selects the winner and finalists of the Balsillie Prize for Public Policy. Each juror may request an unlimited number of additional titles from a publisher’s list. Such titles are on equal footing with all other submissions, provided that their publishers agree to abide by the conditions laid out in this document.

The jury acts independently of the Writers’ Trust and is charged with interpreting the mandate and eligibility criteria of the prize, as well as determining which of the submissions best reflect the prize mandate. In evaluating the writing, literary merit is the sole criteria. The judgment of the jury in selecting the winners, determining eligibility, and interpreting these rules is final.

Announcement of Nominees & Winners

The list of finalist authors will be announced in October and the award will be presented in November.

Publisher Obligations

If an author is a finalist the publisher will agree to:

  • Supply the Writers’ Trust with 18 additional copies of the shortlisted book for publicity purposes.
  • Affix stickers provided by the Writers’ Trust to all outgoing copies of the current edition of the finalist and winning books and include prize sticker artwork on any subsequent editions.
  • Participate in promotion and publicity efforts undertaken by the Writers’ Trust and stress the importance of this with their authors.
  • Commit resources, in accordance to their ability, to ensure shortlisted authors are able to attend prize-related events in the fall of 2021.


For further information or help with submissions please email:

Devon Jackson, Author Programs Manager

Deadline: 14/07/2021 12:00 am (Timezone: Etc/GMT+12)

Artist in Residence, Opportunities
Apply until 29/10/2021

Artist in Residence, Call for Artists, Opportunities
Apply until 23/10/2021

Call for Artists, Exhibition Opportunity, Opportunities
Apply until 07/01/2022