There are far too many government departments from a government that spends far too much. They need to cut.
Archive for the ‘Government debt’ Category
by Brian Lilley
Did you hear about the government program that sends senior bureaucrats on expensive junkets around the world?
The story, broken on Sun News, told of how top civil servants were spending $20,000 a pop on two-week trips overseas to learn how to be better bureaucrats.
It’s the type of spending that is likely to be cut in the next budget, but the truth is the cuts will need to be deeper than small programs.
The Harper government spends too much money and has spent too much since it came to power.
This needs to stop.
The Treasury Board is currently reviewing spending cut proposals after telling all departments to come up with opportunities to cut between 5% and 10% of their budgets. Even if a full 10% of government expenditures were cut, the federal government would still be spending more than it was in 2008 before the recession began.
Of course, we won’t see a full 10% across-the-board cut because Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised there will be no reductions to the monthly pension and child-care payments that go out to citizens and no cuts to the transfers the provinces receive.
That’s a sizeable chunk of the budget that will be left untouched.
With a federal debt of more than $577 billion, getting control of government spending is imperative.
If the cutting is going to be serious, it will mean cutting full government agencies, boards and corporations.
The other day I posted a full list of the federal government’s departments, agencies and such on my blog Lilleyspad.ca. Did you know there are 225 such bodies?
I’ve been asking viewers of Byline for their suggestions on what government bodies we can do without and I encourage you to look at the list and do the same.
It’s important we ask key questions such as, what is government doing now that it should not be doing? Are there any government agencies that could be privatized and provide better service to the public? And, are there federal government bodies that replicate work being done by the provinces or that would be better handled by a lower level of government?
Did you know that we, the taxpayers, own a giant fish marketing company?
“The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, a self-sustaining federal Crown corporation created in 1969, is the buyer, processor and marketer of freshwater fish from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and part of Northwestern Ontario,” reads a government website.
Why do we own a fish marketing and processing company?
What about the International Development Research Centre? This organization, which costs $207 million a year, is aimed at boosting research in developing countries.
If we are cutting services to Canadians, do we really need to fund research scientists in Cairo?
And speaking of foreign aid, why did we give $140 million last year to members of the G20, all countries that are supposed to be world leaders?
We are spending $116 million this year on Telefilm Canada and $74 million on the National Film Board. Do we need it and if we do, does it need to cost this much?
So where would you cut if you could? Trust me, the government needs encouragement and they need ideas.
I’ve been saying that everyone should look at the list of government agencies, departments and so on and ask where Jim Flaherty should cut. Of course I already suggested $140 million in cuts by eliminating the foreign aid that we give to members of G20, we’ll see if they respond to that.
But with 225 departments, agencies, boards etc. eating away at taxpayers dollars, the cuts have to be deeper. Here are some thoughts. I welcome yours.
The Canadian Dairy Commission should go. Here’s how the CDC describes itself.
“The Canadian Dairy Commission is a Crown corporation which was established in 1966 with the mandate of coordinating federal and provincial dairy policies and creating a control mechanism for milk production which would help stabilize revenues and avoid costly surpluses. ”
According to the Treasury Board’s main estimates, the CDC costs us $3.9 million a year. Forget about whether supply management and price control is a good thing or not, the fact is that each province also has its own bureaucracy for this. Leave it to them, scrap this beast and save the $3.9 million.
Did you know that the federal government owns a giant fish company in the form of Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation?
“The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, a self-sustaining federal Crown corporation created in 1969, is the buyer, processor and marketer of freshwater fish from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and part of Northwestern Ontario. The Corporation’s mandate is to purchase all fish lawfully fished and offered for sale, to create an orderly market, to promote international markets, to increase fish trade, and to increase returns to fishers. Profits, in the form of final payments, are distributed annually to participating fishers.”
It may truly be self-sustaining because I did not find a line item cost in the main estimates but why do we own a fish processing company? Why not sell it? And why if Canadians believe in freedom for wheat farmers do we not believe in freedom for fishermen?
The International Development Research Centre costs $207 million from the Foreign Affairs budget and acts as a different kind of CIDA, this one aimed at boosting research in developing countries rather than feeding people.
“IDRC supports applied research to find local solutions that will have lasting impacts on communities around the world. We are facilitators, drawing together the best scientific minds to collaborate on finding knowledge that works. ”
If we are cutting services to Canadians do we need this?
What about a body designed to co-ordinate between levels of government that has an exact replica at each provincial level? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a body that I can live without, the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat.
“In Canada, the power to govern is shared between the federal and provincial governments. With such a constitutional arrangement, there is a great need for governments to communicate, to consult each other, to harmonize their policies and programs, coordinate their activities, resolve conflicts, and, in some instances, develop policies jointly.”
Total cost is $6.6 million and I bet the feds and provinces could still have all their meetings without using this boondoggle.
That’s just a start, more ideas to come.
Where would you cut? Remember, we are deeply in debt.
You’ve heard of the latest story about government misspending, high-flying bureaucrats taking trips hither and yon to learn how to be better bureaucrats.
It is an outrage and should be cut but really to tame government spending we need to do more in this country and I’d say getting rid of some departments, agencies or crown corporations should be under consideration.
Take a look at the list below and pick what you would cut. The list can be seen here as well.
Departments (Sch I FAA) 20
- Agriculture & Agrifood Canada
- Canadian Heritage
- Citizenship & Immigration Canada
- Environment Canada
- Department of Finance Canada
- Fisheries & Oceans Canada
- Foreign Affairs & International Trade
- Health Canada
- Human Resources & Skills Development 
- Indian & Northern Affairs Development
- Industry Canada
- Justice Canada
- National Defence
- Natural Resources Canada
- Public Safety Canada
- Public Works & Government Services
- Transport Canada
- Treasury Board
- Veterans Affairs Canada
- Western Economic Diversification Canada
Entities in Departments: Special Operating Agencies 15
- Canadian Coast Guard
- Canadian Conservation Institute
- Canadian Forces Housing Agency
- Canadian Heritage Information Network
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office
- Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency
- Consulting and Audit Canada
- Defence Research and Development Canada
- Indian Oil and Gas Canada
- Industrial Technologies Office
- Measurement Canada
- Passport Canada
- Physical Resources Bureau
- Superintendent of Bankruptcy
- Translation Bureau
Other Entities associated with Departments Approx.30
- Canada Pension Appeals Board
- Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board
- Canadian Forces Non-Public Funds
- Communications Security Establishment
- Statistical Survey Operations
Statutory & other Agencies (FAA Sch I.1) 67
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Canada Industrial Relations Board
- Canadian Artists & Producers Professional Relations Tribunal
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
- Canadian Forces Grievance Board
- Canadian Grain Commission
- Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
- Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat
- Canadian International Development Agency
- Canadian International Trade Tribunal
- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
- Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service
- Canadian Space Agency
- Canadian Transportation Agency
- Copyright Board
- Correctional Service of Canada
- Courts Administration Service
- Economic Development Agency of Canada
for the Regions of Quebec
- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
- Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada
- Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission
- Immigration & Refugee Board
- Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission Secretariat
- Library & Archives Canada
- Military Police Complaints Commission
- National Energy Board
- National Farm Products Council
- National Film Board
- National Parole Board
- Northern Pipeline Agency
- Office of Infrastructure Canada
- Office of the Commissioner of Federal
- Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner
- Office of the Coordinator, Status of Women
- Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
- Office of the Governor General’s Secretary
- Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
- Patented Medicine Prices Review Board
- Privy Council Office
- Public Appointments Commission Secretariat 
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Public Service Commission
- Public Service Labour Relations Board
- Public Service Staffing Tribunal
- Registrar of the Supreme Court
- Registry of the Competition Tribunal
- Registry of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal
- Registry of the Specific Claims Tribunal
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review Committee
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police Public Complaints Commission
- Security Intelligence Review Committee
- Statistics Canada
- Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada
- Veterans Review and Appeal Board
Agents of Parliament
- Office of the Auditor General
- Office of the Chief Electoral Officer
- Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying
- Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
- Office of the Information Commissioner
- Office of the Privacy Commissioner
- Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Special Operating Agency
Departmental Corporations (FAA Sch II) 19
- Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency 
- Canada Employment Insurance Commission
- Canada School of Public Service
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Canadian Polar Commission
- Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation & Safety Board
- Law Commission of Canada 
- National Battlefields Commission
- National Research Council
- National Roundtable on the Environment & the Economy
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency
- Parks Canada Agency
Staffs of Parliamentary Entities Subject to the FAA (not included in Schedules) 3
- House of Commons
- Library of Parliament
Officers of Parliament 15
- Associate Parliamentary Librarian
- Clerk Assistant (House of Commons)
- Clerk of the House
- Clerk of the Senate
- Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
- Deputy Clerk of the House
- Deputy Clerk of the Senate
- Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel (House of Commons)
- Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel (Senate)
- Parliamentary Budget Officer
- Parliamentary Librarian
- Parliamentary Poet Laureate
- Senate Ethics Officer
- Usher of the Black Rod
Parent Crown Corporations (FAA Sch III) 49
(FAA Sch III Part 1) 34
- Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
- Atlantic Pilotage Authority
- Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd
- Blue Water Bridge Authority
- Business Development Bank of Canada
- Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board
- Canada Lands Company Ltd.
- Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation
- Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
- Cdn Commercial Corporation
- Canadian Dairy Commission
- Cdn Museum of Civilization
- Cdn Museum of Human Rights
- Canadian Museum of Nature
- Canadian Tourism Commission
- Corporation for the Mitigation of Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts 
- Defence Construction (1951) Ltd.
- Enterprise Cape Breton Corp.
- Export Development Canada
- Farm Credit Canada
- First Nations Statistical Institute
- Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation
- Great Lakes Pilotage Authority
- Laurentian Pilotage Authority
- Marine Atlantic
- National Capital Commission
- National Gallery of Canada
- National Museum of Science and Technology
- Pacific Pilotage Authority
- Ridley Terminals Inc.
- Standards Council of Canada
- The Federal Bridge Corp. Ltd.
- VIA Rail
(FAA Sch III Part II) 3
- Canada Development Investment Corporation
- Canada Post Corporation
- Royal Canadian Mint
Governed by Respective Acts 9
- Bank of Canada
- Canada Council for the Arts
- Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
- Canadian Broadcasting Corp
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation
- International Development Research Centre
- National Arts Centre Corp.
- Public Sector Pension Investment Board
- Telefilm Canada
Subsidiaries that report as Parents 3
- Old Port of Montreal Corp Inc.
- Parc Downsview Park Inc.
- PPP Canada Inc.
I don’t spend a whole lot of time looking at the international financial markets, I simply don’t have that much money to care.
Maybe that should change.
Earlier this week Germany, the strongest economy in Europe, tried to raise money by issuing debt in the form of bonds. Despite being a good credit risk, they couldn’t do it.
Europe’s debt problems are well known by now, but the fact that they are hitting Germany should worry Canadians.
In September of 2010, the last time I wrote a column about Canada’s federal debt, the tally stood at $543,022,147,241.02. Now that debt is more than $571,400,000,000.
Add in provincial debt and Canada stands at more than $1.1 trillion in government debt.
Think about that for a minute and ask yourself if you can even comprehend what a trillion dollars is. I can’t but I do understand that we owe more than $32,000 for every man, woman and child in this country.
Of course that’s not counting the debt increases we can expect over the next several years.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced it will take longer for him to balance the books and stop spending more than he is taking in.
On Wednesday, it was Ontario’s turn.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced that his province will have a deficit of $16 billion this year, $2 billion higher than expected. Ontario’s public debt is
$251.9 billion plus another $15 billion in unfunded pension payments that taxpayers are on the hook for.
How does all this relate to Germany’s inability to sell bonds?
Just to finance itself Ontario will have to sell $35 billion worth of bonds this year. The province’s credit rating is only AA rather than the higher AAA ranking of the federal government, indicating that Ontario is considered a higher risk.
While no one expects Ontario to default on its debt obligations any time soon, just like with personal credit ratings, a lower score means a higher interest rate.
If Ontario, with a worse debt situation and poorer credit rating than Germany has trouble selling its bonds, then the province’s books will be in even worse shape, meaning tax hikes or service cuts in the near future.
A hike in interest rates would do the same thing.
Quebec is in even worse shape. With a smaller population and economy, Quebecers are on the hook for $163 billion in government debt, a figure that represents 54% of the province’s GDP. Like Ontario, Quebec is run by a government that promises more than it can pay for.
Governments have spent the last few decades trying to tell citizens that they can have it all and not worry abut the bill, but that bill is coming due.
If the federal and provincial governments don’t clean up their budgets and control their spending in the next couple of years, they will only be able to pay for pension promises they’ve made to civil servants.
While billions upon billions in pension promises have been made to civil servants, those billions of dollars have not all been set aside.
As baby boomers retire in greater numbers, Canadian taxpayers will be forced to pay for their neighbour to enjoy the retirement they themselves will never have.
If government books aren’t put in order soon, the pain people worry about now will be nothing compared to the pain we’ll all experience in the future.