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Federal government increased number of public service employees by more than 40%


4 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Grady Munro

“the size of the federal public service reached 274,219 employees in 2022/23—an increase of 40.4 per cent since 2014/15”

Over the last eight years the Trudeau government has expanded the size of the federal public service to ensure it plays a more active role in the Canadian economy. However, there’s little evidence that this bigger government has made Canadians better off.

According to the Public Service Commission of Canada, the size of the federal public service reached 274,219 employees in 2022/23—an increase of 40.4 per cent since 2014/15. And according to data from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, total compensation for federal bureaucrats (adjusted for inflation) increased by nearly 37 per cent between 2015/16 and 2021/22.

This is occurring even as government workers in Canada already enjoy a substantial wage and benefit premium compared to comparable workers in the private sector. According to a recent study  published by the Fraser Institute, in 2021 (the latest year of comparable data) government workers at all levels (federal, provincial and local) received wages that were 8.5 per cent higher, on average, than Canadians employed in the private sector. (The study controls for factors such as gender, age, education, tenure and industry to provide an “apples to apples” comparison among workers.)

But higher compensation and an increasing size of the federal public service have not provided better access to government programs and services or translated into tangible economic results for Canadians.

recent poll found that only 16 per cent of Canadians believe they get good or great value from the services they receive from governments such as health care, education, police, roads and national defence. Nearly half (44 per cent) of Canadians believed they receive poor or very poor value from the services they receive.

Moreover, living standards have only improved marginally in Canada since 2015. Gross domestic product (GDP) per person—a broad measure of living standards—has grown by a meagre 5.1 per cent (inflation-adjusted) over the last eight years. By comparison, Americans have seen their living standards grow by nearly three times as much over the same timeframe.

To put this into further perspective, total compensation and employment for federal bureaucrats are increasing much faster than living standards for Canadians.

These results are not surprising. Bigger governments are not necessarily better than smaller ones. Empirical economic research suggests that economic growth is maximized when government spending ranges between 24 per cent and 32 per cent of the size of the national economy. When government spending exceeds this optimal range, government impedes both economic growth and improvements in living standards. Unfortunately, Canada’s size of government (federal, provincial and local) was far beyond the optimal level at 40.5 per cent of GDP in 2022.

Since 2015, the Trudeau government has added more administrators and managers to the federal public service and significantly increased spending—while failing to help raise the living standards of Canadians. Entrusting bureaucrats to pick winners and losers by subsidizing certain industries instead of others has not been a recipe for economic success. Instead, Ottawa appears to be competing with the private sector for skilled workers and inhibiting the national economy in the process.

Canada needs a leaner and more efficient federal government that focuses only on its core functions. Bigger government hasn’t been good for Canadians, it’s only been good for government workers.

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Trudeau pledges another $3 billion to Ukraine, including $4 million for ‘gender and diversity’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent Ukraine over $13.3 billion, including $4 billion in direct military assistance since 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending another 3 billion taxpayer dollars to Ukraine, including $4 million for a “gender and diversity” initiative in the embattled country. 

On February 24, Trudeau’s office announced $3.02 billion in funding for Ukraine as it continues its war against Russia, including millions of taxpayer dollars to promote “gender-inclusive demining.” 

“Canada will provide critical financial and military support to Ukraine in 2024, including new financial support for Ukraine to meet its balance of payments and budgetary needs and stabilize its economy,” a press release promised, without explaining why it’s Canada’s role to prop up Ukraine’s economy.   

Within the 2024 funds, Trudeau promised $4 million to promote “gender-inclusive demining for sustainable futures in Ukraine.” However, the government failed to explain what gender or diversity have to do with demining, and how it is in the interest of the Canadian taxpayer to fund ideologically driven initiatives in foreign countries. 

“This project from the HALO Trust aims to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainians, including women and internally displaced persons, by addressing the threat of explosive ordnance present across vast areas of the country,” the press release said.  

“Project activities include conducting non-technical surveys and subsequent manual clearance in targeted communities; providing capacity building to key national stakeholders; and establishing a gender and diversity working group to promote gender-transformative mine action in Ukraine,” it added.  

Additionally, $1.5 million is being given to the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining to “enhance the capacity of Ukrainian mine action institutions to implement effective and gender-responsive mine action operations, develop country-appropriate information management solutions, and lead efficient mine action donor coordination platforms.”  

Since the Russia-Ukraine war began in 2022, Canada has given Ukraine over $13.3 billion, including $4 billion in direct military assistance.   

Trudeau’s ongoing funding for Ukraine comes as many Canadians are struggling to pay for basics such as food, shelter, and heating. According to a recent government report, fast-rising food costs in Canada have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation” with nowhere to turn for help. 

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Canadians in three provinces will spend roughly the same on debt interest as K-12 education

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From the Fraser Institute

By Grady Munro and Jake Fuss

From 2008/09 to 2023/24, the federal government is projected to have run deficits every single year, with no interruptions. This has resulted in federal net debt (total debt minus financial assets) increasing by $603.6 billion (inflation-adjusted).

For more than a decade, Canadian governments have increasingly relied on borrowed money to fund their excessive spending habits. However, as debt has continued to pile up so have the costs associated with this debt—namely interest costs. A recent study shows that in some of the largest provinces, governments now spend nearly as much or more on debt interest costs than on K-12 education.

Since the 2008/09 financial crisis, governments across Canada have fallen into the habit of utilizing debt to fund their spending habits. For example, consider the federal government.

From 2008/09 to 2023/24, the federal government is projected to have run deficits every single year, with no interruptions. This has resulted in federal net debt (total debt minus financial assets) increasing by $603.6 billion (inflation-adjusted). Conversely, from 1996/97 to 2007/08, the federal government actually lowered its net debt by $348.1 billion (inflation-adjusted). Clearly, there’s been a shift in the government’s approach towards debt accumulation.

This is not simply a federal problem, as provinces have also seen their debt burdens rise as well. Cumulatively, provincial and federal net debt has increased by $1.0 trillion (inflation-adjusted) from 2007/08 to 2023/24.

Government debt carries costs, primarily in the form of the interest payments, which represent money that doesn’t go towards paying down the actual debt amount, nor does it go towards providing government services or tax relief. And since governments must utilize tax revenues to pay interest, taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for servicing government debt.

But how much do Canadians actually pay in debt interest costs?

Using data from the most recent fiscal updates, a new study compares combined (federal and provincial) debt interest costs for residents in three of the largest provinces (OntarioQuebec and Alberta) with what those provinces expect to spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. The study utilizes combined debt interest costs because Canadians are ultimately responsible for interest costs incurred by both the federal government and the province in which they live. The following chart summarizes the comparisons from the study.

As is clear from the chart, combined interest costs for residents in these provinces are nearly as much or more than their province expects to spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. Specifically, combined interest costs are $31.5 billion for Ontarians, which is only $3.2 billion less than the province will spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. Combined interest costs for Quebecers ($20.3 billion) will actually exceed the $19.9 billion the province will devote towards K-12 education. And combined interest costs for Albertans are only slightly lower than the $8.9 billion that will be spent on K-12 education.

In other words, taxpayers in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are paying nearly as much or more to service federal and provincial government debt than they are paying to fund K-12 education in their province. This budget season, it’s important to remember the costs associated with growing government debt.

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