Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a three-day cabinet retreat in Hamilton last year that ultimately cost taxpayers over $305,000, bringing the total cost of the three federal government “affordability” retreats to more than $1 million in a single year.

Newly obtained documents acquired by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation through an access to information request revealed that Trudeau and his cabinet ministers spent $305,000 on a three-day retreat to combat inflation and the high cost of living for Canadians last January. 

“Taxpayers can’t afford any more of Trudeau’s affordability retreats,” said the taxpayer watchdog group’s federal director. Franco Terrazzano. “Who in their right mind spends more than $1 million on ‘affordability’ retreats in one year while Canadians are struggling?”

Trudeau announced at the time of the retreat that it was going to be an opportunity, “to build on our continued efforts to make life more affordable for the middle class and people working hard to join it.” 

The records reveal that the Liberals spent $32,000 on “hospitality” and $20,000 on meals and incidentals. This did not cover the price of their actual hotel rooms, which cost taxpayers another $50,000.

Meeting rooms were also booked for the retreat, costing an additional $48,000 with another $26,000 in rental equipment and finally $71,000 for audio and visual services. 

Among food expenses were a $3,493 worth of pop and juice, $542 for potato chips, a $250 cheese board, $240 worth of cookies and $220 worth of pita chips and hummus spread. 

The records obtained by the CTF did not include expenses from the Privy Council Office, meaning the total bill is likely to be even higher than it currently appears. 

The Liberals’ previous cabinet retreat in Prince Edward Island cost the Privy Council Office $328,000 in expenses, with the total bill coming in at $485,196 with costs coming in from other departments. 

The first “affordability” retreat was held in Vancouver in September 2022, which cost taxpayers $275,000, with the National Post obtaining records that the total cost racked up to $471,070, upon further cabinet expense disclosures. 

“It was really important for me to get that kind of direct fingertip feel of what is happening with the Canadian economy and what Canadians are feeling,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Vancouver at the time. 

Records revealed that the retreat served filet mignon, prawn ravioli and grilled dijon salmon, among other options. 

“At the very least, maybe Trudeau should consider renaming his affordability retreats,” said Terrazzano.