In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, expenses in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office increased by 6.9% to $10.5 million.
According to the government’s public accounts for 2020-2021, spending for all ministerial offices, including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), reached $68.21 million. The majority of the spending, $67.3 million, was spent on personnel.
When The Hill Times reached out to the PMO for comment, a spokesperson blamed the pandemic for the increase in spending and that its spending is “in line with or lower than some previous governments.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Canadians’ lives and the way they work. Workplaces needed to adjust to the new reality to ensure public health and continued operations. The Prime Minister’s Office was no exception,” the PMO spokesperson said.
After Trudeau’s office, then-government House leader Pablo Rodriquez was the highest-spending office with $2.96 million. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office closely followed at $2.93 million.
The pandemic has had devastating effects on the livelihoods of Canadians, as many businesses were forced to shut down.
In May of 2020, Statistics Canada reported that unemployment in Canada reached its highest level in the agency’s history.
“The unemployment rate was 13.7% in May, the highest rate recorded since comparable data became available in 1976. In February, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate was 5.6%. It increased to 7.8% in March and 13.0% in April,” StatsCan said at the time.
Meanwhile, the federal government spent money at unprecedented levels. In the first 8 months of the pandemic, Trudeau spent $240 billion. In the government’s latest fiscal update, Canada’s debt is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by the end of this fiscal year.
The government’s spending has resulted in an inflation crisis which has increased the cost of goods for Canadian consumers.
According to Canadian Taxpayers Federation Federal Director Franco Terrazzano, it’s time for the federal government to start curbing back spending.
“The stats are showing what everyone is feeling: pain from sky-high cost of living. It’s time for the feds to take the printing press out of overdrive, rein in the overspending and provide tax relief.”