26 September 2023

CANADA: Public sector expansion to continue

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Canada’s Federal Government is to continue to aggressively hire Public Servants, pushing the size of its workforce to about 409,000 within five years, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has predicted.

In his report, Yves Giroux estimated $C2.3 billion ($A2.5 billion) of additional spending would be needed for the salaries and benefits of an expanding bureaucracy, which pushes the wage bill to $C55 billion ($A60.4) this year.

The Government has been increasing the size of the Public Service since 2015, kicking into overdrive when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The big hires were at the Canada Revenue Agency with 9,900 new recruits, the Department of Employment and Social Development (8,500) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (1,900).

Mr Giroux (pictured) said anyone looking for signs of Departments reallocating money or reducing spending would find a very different story.

“It’s growing; with the amounts that were announced in or before the fall (autumn) Economic Statement, oh yes, they are growing the Public Service,” he said.

President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier has tabled the Government’s latest spending plans, known as Supplementary Estimates, asking Parliament to approve another $C21 billion ($A23 billion) in spending.

This covers a raft of spending measures that have bypassed the normal financial cycle.

About a third of the money is tied to spending announced in April’s Budget, another third is for Indigenous Reconciliation and the rest is for initiatives that were not in the Budget or the Economic Statement.

Despite the extra hiring, barriers to improving service continue to be a lack of investment in technology and recruiting the right people.

Media reports suggested it was unclear whether the Government was hiring people with the skills for the future or simply scrambling for people to deal with the pressure of backlogs and delays.

Ottawa, 26 November 2022

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