The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has learned that more than half a million federal and provincial government workers received pay raises during the COVID-19 pandemic while not a single government reduced employees’ pay.  

“We’re not all in this together,” said CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano in a press release on Monday. “We’ve seen a tale of two pandemics: One full of private sector pain and the other full of financial gain for bureaucrats and politicians.”

Freedom of information requests obtained by the CTF shows that 528,347 federal and provincial government employees received pay raises during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. 

No provincial or federal government reduced pay for their employees in the same time period. 

Members of Parliament have given themselves two pay raises during the pandemic, ranging from $6,900 for backbenchers to $13,800 for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

MPs are set to give themselves a third pandemic pay raise on April 1. 

The CTF found that 312,825 federal government employees got a pay raise during the pandemic. 

At the provincial level, Ontario handed out the most raises, with 64,958 seeing higher salaries. This was followed by Quebec with 42,149 employees, and British Columbia with 33,336. 

“Many Canadians outside of government took a pay cut, lost their job or business and it’s not fair to ask them to pay higher taxes so bureaucrats and politicians can collect bigger paycheques,” said Terrazzano. “Politicians and bureaucrats need to help shoulder some of the burden by reversing these pandemic pay hikes.”

Federal employees who were not sick or working from home have also received $1.1 billion in paid leave since the pandemic began, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. 

Estimates from the Treasury Board of Canada obtained by Blacklock’s show that 113,362 federal employees spent days or weeks on paid leave for various reasons such as not being equipped to work from home or family priorities. 

“The Treasury Board Secretariat was unable to provide actual personnel expenditures for the survey period,” said the department. “The Budget Office estimates a cost of nearly $1.1 billion between March and September.”

In July 2021, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) placed Canada among the member countries with the highest unemployment rate. At the time, the OECD blamed “temporary layoffs” during the COVID-19 pandemics peak and a “larger decline in the employment rate than the OECD average” as being behind the high unemployment. 

Since the OECD’s report, Canada’s unemployment rate has improved, currently sitting at 5.9%.

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