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.