Public Service Awards costs taxpayers nearly 0k, despite poor performances
Public Service Awards costs taxpayers nearly 0k, despite poor performances

The federal government spent almost a half-a-million dollars on evenings celebrating the Public Service Award of Excellence over the last decade, despite the fact that the bulk of federal departments have failed to meet their performance targets since 2012.

Taxpayers are the ones who cover the cost of these lavish ceremonies, which have racked up a bill of $476,000 from 2012 to 2022. 

“It’s time to end Ottawa’s party with taxpayers’ cash,” said Franco Terrazzano, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “The appropriate trophies would be big golden pigs.”

The event was launched in 2005 with 14 “award categories” to recognize government employees who “demonstrated excellence in achieving results for Canadians.”

According to a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer released last year, under half of all federal departments managed to meet their performance targets on an annual basis. 

The cost of these celebrations for just 2022 and 2023 alone was $118,000, with the majority of that money, about $80,000, spent on custom-designed trophies. 

The trophies are described as being a “plaque in bevelled black glass,” featuring “clear crystal overlay with silver standoffs” and a “personalized inscription deep-etched and silver-filled.”

Additionally, costs were expensed for “mileage and parking for 165 local employees,” who may have had to drive into downtown Ottawa for the festivities.

In 2021, the event lasted almost three days, with $20,000 being spent on the development of an online “platform,” event production. There was also a speech writer, which cost an additional $2,000. 

The trophies for that year only cost $15,000 however, as the feds opted for a “stone art with blown glass mounted on an optical crystal base,” “COVID heroes coins,” and a “black hexagon tower cast in stone.”

Before the era of COVID hero coins, the federal government spent $23,000 on the award gala in 2019, with a menu that featured cured arctic char, smoked and candied salmon, smoked trout, pork terrine, duck prosciutto and charcuterie. 

“It’s nice that bureaucrats are able to find time to blow tens of thousands of dollars on award shows for themselves while the Canadians who pay their salaries can’t afford ground beef,” said Terrazzano. “Canadians staring down their growing bills have every right to be furious about the government’s glitzy galas.”

That same year, a photographer was hired to snap the moments bureaucrats were handed their “custom imported medallions” with “antique gold recessed finish,” presented in a “black velvet box” with “engraving on the back.”

Since 2012, the trophies have amounted to $242,909. 

“Nothing screams fiscal responsibility like spending thousands every year awarding bureaucrats that can’t meet their own performance targets,” said Terrazzano. “The government is more than $1 trillion in debt, so Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must do the right thing and end these expensive bureaucrat award shows.”

2012 marked the most expensive gala on record, costing over $195,000 in taxpayer money. 

The CTF was informed by a government spokesperson that from 2005 to 2011, the cost of the parties was “in line” with 2012. However, the following year, the government ceased having the parties take place in a rented ballroom and moved future events to Rideau Hall, to reduce costs.

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