- Federal – Canada Revenue Agency for employee’s $538,000 moving expenses
- Provincial – Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, which provides subsidies for luxury cars
- Municipal – City of Victoria for its bungled Blue Bridge project
- Lifetime Achievement – The Government of Ontario for its mishandling of energy policy
OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) held its 19th annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony, celebrating the best of the worst in government waste from the past year. CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick served as host, joined by the CTF’s pig mascot Porky the Waster Hater and talented event hostess Sam. The awards event took place on Parliament Hill in the Charles Lynch Press Conference Theatre.
The Teddy, the pig-shaped award given annually by the CTF to government’s worst waste offenders, is named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 for submitting a panoply of dubious expense claims, including a $700 lunch for two.
“We take our job as waste watchdogs seriously, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun highlighting some of the most outrageous examples,” said Wudrick. “Especially since governments seem infinitely creative when it comes to dreaming up new ways to waste money.”
FEDERAL TEDDY WINNER: THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY (CRA) FOR PAYING AN EMPLOYEE $538,000 IN MOVING EXPENSES
A CRA moved 192km from Richmond Hill to Belleville, Ontario, and received a $538,000 moving payment. Queries to CRA revealed that $340,000 of the payment was for “price protection” on the sale of a home and $168,000 for was realtor fees. The CTF calculates taxpayers forked out half-a-million taxpayer dollars to cover the sale of a bureaucrat’s $3.4 million house.
“Suffice to say, dinging taxpayers for half a million dollars for a 200km move isn’t likely to improve the CRA’s popularity with Canadians,” said Wudrick.
PROVINCIAL TEDDY WINNER: ONTARIO’S ELECTRIC VEHICLE INCENTIVE PROGRAM
The Ontario government spent over $39 million on subsidies for electric vehicles over the past six years, including $14 million for vehicles with a retail price over $70,000. After reducing the subsidies in 2016, Tesla – whose Model S retails for $135,000 and had previously been eligible for an $8,500 taxpayer subsidy – registered a lobbyist at Queen’s Park. In February 2017, the government didn’t just revert to old subsidy, but actually raised it to $14,000 for cars between $75,000 to $150,000 – a 367% increase.
“The only thing ‘green’ about these subsidies is the colour of taxpayers’ faces after finding out they’re being forced to subsidize millionaires’ car purchases,” noted Wudrick.
MUNICIPAL TEDDY WINNER: THE CITY OF VICTORIA’S BLUE BRIDGE
In 2009, the projected cost to replace Victoria’s 93-year-old Johnson St Bridge (“Blue Bridge”) was $63 million dollars. Fast forward to today, thanks to problems with the quality of the steel being used and several delays, and the price tag has ballooned to $105 million – an increase of $42 million – with final completion anticipated for mid-2018, a full three years behind schedule.
“At $42 million over budget, Victoria taxpayers are sure to be a lot bluer than even the Blue Bridge,” said Wudrick.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT TEDDY: GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO FOR ITS MISHANDLING OF THE ENERGY FILE
The Government of Ontario has a long track record of mismanaging the province’s energy policy, resulting in an expensive disaster for Ontario consumers. In her 2015 Annual Report, Ontario’s Auditor General found that Ontario consumers paid an extra $37 billion above the market price for energy between 2006 and 2014, and estimated that current energy policies would cost Ontarians another $133 billion by 2032.
Such eye-watering numbers are not the result of any single policy mistake, but rather a series of ill-advised policy decisions, including long-term fixed-price energy contracts at above-market rates; the Green Energy Act (GEA), which has transferred billions from Ontario taxpayers to money-losing renewable energy providers; the promise to cancel planned gas plants in the middle of an election; a smart meter program that ran $1 billion over budget; and boneheaded decisions such as overruling the Ontario Power Authority to convert a Thunder Bay coal plant into a biomass facility that can only run on imported wood chips from Norway, generating electricity at 25 times the normal cost.
“The Ontario government has a proud tradition of ignoring their policy failures and lurching blindly on to the next one – as their decision to impose a new cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, which the Auditor General says will increase electricity prices by around 25% – clearly shows.” said Wudrick
OTHER NOMINEES INCLUDED:
Federal – The Department of Canadian Heritage for commissioning a $14,000 survey on Parliament Hill’s Christmas light show
Federal – The Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food which together with the Manitoba government gave Maple Leaf Foods $500,000 to expand bacon production at their Winnipeg plant
Provincial – The Government of Nova Scotia for subsidizing improvements to the Portland, Maine ferry terminal and losing millions on a service intended to boost tourism
Provincial – The Government of Quebec for paying a political appointee $180,000 per year for nearly four years even though she almost never went to work
Municipal – The City of Montreal for spending $3.45 million to install 27 granite tree stumps in Mount Royal Park
Municipal – Former County of Richmond, Nova Scotia, CAO Warren Olsen for expensing taxpayers for dubious mileage claims, double dipping on meals, and $582 at two Houston strip clubs.
CLICK HERE for our backgrounder on all 2017 Teddy award nominees.