Canadian taxpayers had to foot nearly $1.3 billion in COVID-19 furloughs in the form of leaves of absences for federal employees.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), the total cost amounted to $1,269,900,000. 

“The Treasury Board was unable to provide actual personnel expenditures,” wrote the PBO.

“Leave was likely under-reported by many organizations .Indeed, in each subsequent data update provided by the Treasury Board there was an increase in the number of hours previously reported.”

When broken down, it cost taxpayers $481 per employee per day when counting wages and benefits. Overall employees received an average $9,547 in furloughs. 

As reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Treasury Board allowed federal managers to grant paid leave to employees, even if they were in “good health.” 

Among the reasons cited include parenting, not being able to work from home or living with someone at “high risk of severe illness.” 

“We’ve made sure to take care of our employees since the start of the pandemic,” said assistant deputy minister of the Treasury Board Sandra Hassan on November 4, 201. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic we sent everyone home to comply with public health directives and to ensure the safety of our employees and communities.”

Among the departments with the highest amount in furloughs include the Canada Revenue Agency, Correctional Service, the Department of National Defence and the Department of Employment, among others. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor-General, granted the highest amount of unpaid leave with 1,016 hours or 6 months clocked by some employees. 

“The Office of the Governor General’s Secretary is somewhat of an outlier,” wrote the PBO.