Budget 2023 proposes across-the-board 3 per cent spending cut for government departments
The federal budget proposes an across-the-board three per cent spending cut for all departments and agencies, a belt-tightening move after years of massive growth in the federal public service.
The proposal is one of several the Liberals say will save more than $15 billion in government spending over the next five years.
"We think there are opportunities to tighten the management of the ship," a senior government official told reporters on Tuesday inside the budget lockup. "We have seen costs go up, we have seen the size of the public service go up."
- Watch live coverage of the 2023 federal budget from 4 p.m. ET
- Capital Dispatch: Sign up for in-depth political coverage of Parliament Hill
The three per cent spending cut will be phased in by 2026-27, the government says, adding the plan will save $7 billion over four years.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the spending cuts will not include layoffs or staff reductions in the public service.
"Those savings will come from government operations, and I think that those savings are eminently attainable," Freeland told reporters on Tuesday.
Freeland added that the savings are "the right thing to do" and the government was aiming to find a balance between investing in Canadians and continuing "to be a fiscally responsible government."
"Finding that balance, I think quite appropriately, involves the government taking a look at how we do things ourselves, and doing it a little more efficiently," Freeland said.
The budget document, titled "A Made-in-Canada Plan," also says the spending reductions won't affect services.
"Reductions will not impact direct benefits and service delivery to Canadians; direct transfers to other orders of government and Indigenous communities; and the Canadian Armed Forces," the budget document says.
On top of the across-the-board cut, the government is also proposing to reduce spending on consulting, travel and other professional services by 15 per cent of planned 2023-24 spending. The government says that will bring in a savings of $7.1 billion over the next four years.
The budget also promises to work with federal Crown corporations to ensure they make comparable spending reductions. That would account for $1.3 billion in savings over four years starting in 2024-25, the budget says.
In all, the proposals represent savings of $15.4 billion over the next five years.
"We think generally across the federal public sector there are opportunities to reallocate resources," the senior government official said. "That's just good housekeeping."
The Parliamentary Budget Office has said that the size of the public service has grown by 28 per cent since the Liberals took office in 2015.
But one expert suggested cuts across the board are a simplistic approach to governing more efficiently.
"Across the board cuts is a pretty blunt instrument," said Fred O'Riordon, the national leader for tax policy at EY, who worked for more than three decades in the public service.
"It doesn't distinguish between programs that are already running efficiently and effectively and those that aren't, and it doesn't identify programs that are no longer necessary."
The head of one of the country's largest public sector unions applauded the government's decision not to cut services or jobs.
"We celebrate the government’s decision to find $7.1 billion in savings through a cap on expenditures on outsourcing and consulting fees, not at the expense of public services Canadians rely on," Jenn Carr, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said in a news release.
"By capping outsourcing, the government is ensuring the quality and stability of the services we provide to Canadians."
Chris Aylward, the head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, expressed skepticism about where the government will find the money for the planned savings.
"They are unable to explain exactly where they're going to get these savings from. So we're very concerned about that, we're concerned about potential job loss as a result of this budget," he told CTV News. "This budget screams austerity."
The budget also proposes to reduce previously announced fuynding that is no longer required or remains unallocated, or delay it where it's being spent slower than first envisioned. That will lead to savings of $6.4 billion over six years, the budget reads.A reporter reads a copy of the Federal Budget in the lockup for the Federal budget, Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO BE REVIEWED
The budget also announces new "cross-government program effectiveness reviews," the first of which will focus on skills training and youth programming.
"The first review will examine skills training and youth programming, to determine, by Budget 2024, whether improvements can be made to help more Canadians develop the skills and receive the work experience they need to have successful careers," the budget says.
Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, whose department oversees the management of the public service, will lead these reviews.
O'Riordon said he would prefer a more complete program review, rather than a piecemeal approach that focuses at first on one thing.
"My preference would be a more comprehensive program review and deeper cuts where they're justified with a reallocation of resources—or resources savings—and leaving effective, efficient programs whole."
MORE FUNDS FOR PHOENIX PAY SYSTEM
The budget allocates more than $1.3 billion in money to deal with ongoing pay issues for public servants. That money is for the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system, which continues to face issues years after it was implemented.
The budget sets aside $517 million in the coming fiscal year and $521 million in 2024-25 for Public Services and Procurement Canada to "maintain pay system resources as the government continues its work to resolve public service pay issues."
The system has cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars and led to pay nightmares for tens of thousands of public servants.
The budget also allocates $52 million to "improving the government's pay administration" for the coming fiscal year.
That money will go toward Shared Services Canada as it continues to work on a "potential next-generation pay solution."
MONEY FOR DIVERSE, INCLUSIVE PUBLIC SERVICE
The budget also promises a new $45.9 million mental health fund for Black public servants.
"All too often, Black public servants face barriers to career advancement and lack adequate support for the challenges they face—particularly for their mental health," the budget document says.
The $45.9 million would be spread over three years and also fund new dedicated career development programs, including to prepare Black public service leaders for executive positions.
A group of current and former Black public servants have filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, saying systemic discrimination negatively affected their careers, including being denied job advancement.
The government is also proposing $6.9 million over two years to advance a "restorative engagement program" that would empower employees who have suffered harassment and discrimination, and to "drive cultural change in the public service."
The funding will also go toward a review of the processes for addressing harassment, violence and discrimination complaints.
Ottawa Top Stories
Special Air Quality Statement
BREAKING | Amber Alert lifted after child found 'safe and sound' in Quebec: police
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Hundreds of American firefighters arrive in Canada to help battle wildfires
Hundreds of American firefighters have recently arrived in Canada to help battle wildfires and more are on the way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
Can face masks help protect you from wildfire smoke? Health expert explains
An official recommendation to wear a mask to protect yourself from wildfire smoke is being echoed by health experts as plumes of smoke make their way across parts of Canada, causing poor air quality.
Here's how major cities in Canada and the U.S. look blanketed by wildfire smoke
Photos show smoke-filled skies in cities across Canada and the U.S. as air quality warnings were issued in wake of the hundreds of wildfires from Quebec and Ontario.
'Very, very hard to breathe': Experts call wildfires a 'major public health concern' for Canada
As forest fires rage across the country, experts are sounding the alarm over the physical and psychological impacts of the wildfires and saying that they pose a serious public health issue, which individuals and governments need to acknowledge and act upon.
WATCH | Rate hike 'may be the last straw' for some homeowners: mortgage broker
With the latest hike bringing Canada's key interest rates to levels not seen since 2001, one mortgage broker is warning that it may be 'the last straw' for some homeowners with variable mortgages.
Canadians more likely to support foreign interference inquiry than hearings: Nanos
Canadians are twice as likely to support a formal inquiry into foreign interference, as opposed to public hearings, according to new polling from Nanos Research for CTV News.
opinion | Eight takeaways from Prince Harry's seven hours on the witness stand
It's been a busy, tumultuous few days for Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex as he took his place on the witness stand in his trial against the Mirror Group Newspapers. Here are royal commentator Afua Hagan's top takeaways from his two-day grilling.
Calgary mass killer Matthew de Grood seeks 'absolute discharge'
The man who was found not criminally responsible in the stabbing deaths of five people at a house party in Brentwood more than nine years ago is seeking more freedoms.
Trudeau shows no interest in compromising with Meta, Google over online news bill
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over a Liberal bill that would make them pay for Canadian journalism that helps the companies generate revenue.
'This is not helping': Frustrated evacuees say official communication lacking in wildfire recovery
Frustration is building among some people from neighbourhoods hardest-hit by the fires near Halifax. CTV's Heidi Petracek reports.
A 'whole list of hazards' are keeping residents near N.S. fire zones under evacuation: officials
It is still not safe for some evacuated residents whose houses were spared from wildfire damage to return home, officials from Halifax Regional Municipality and the District of Shelburne said.
Halifax support workers strike impacting students and families
The father of disabled teen from Fall River, N.S. is calling on all sides to get back to the bargaining table and put an end to the Halifax area CUPE educational support worker strike.
consumer, | Toronto woman 'horrified' after losing $95,000 to romance scam
Romance scams have always been around, but they got worse during the pandemic, and fraudsters continue to use social media and dating sites to find victims.
Number of Ontario forest fires doubled compared to same time last year
Ontario has already experienced double the number of forest fires this year compared to the same six months in 2022.
Alleged Toronto anti-cyclist road rage incident caught on camera
Toronto police are investigating an incident of alleged road rage against a cyclist that was caught on camera.
Ontario man charged with first-degree murder in killing of Claudia Iacono outside Montreal salon
An Ontario man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Claudia Iacono, the daughter-in-law of Mafia associate Moreno Gallo, after she was gunned down at the wheel of her car in Montreal last month.
Woman, 55, dies after vehicle strikes 2 pedestrians in Cote-des-Neiges; second pedestrian seriously injured
A pedestrian has died after she and a fellow pedestrian were both hit by a vehicle Wednesday afternoon in Montreal's Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood.
More evacuations in Quebec as record-breaking fires continue to burn
Quebec's wildfire season, which has forced thousands from their homes and left other communities on high alert, is the worst on record, officials said Wednesday,
Wildfire west of Sudbury prompts evacuation order, total active fires in northern Ont. grows to 54
A northern Ontario forest fire that started west of Sudbury on Sunday morning has grown to more than 1,000 hectares and has prompted officials to issue an evacuation order for the immediate area as the number of active fires in the region grows.
Spreading wildfires prompt northeastern communities to evacuate
Communities affected by wildfires in the region are evacuating for safety reasons. The province says there is significant danger as several out-of-control wildfires affect air quality and physical safety.
‘Incompetent’ northern Ont. doctor loses his license to practise medicine
A northern Ontario doctor has been stripped of his medical licence for conduct described as “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”
VIDEO | 'Hate and discrimination have no place in any TVDSB schools': Investigation underway after pride flag torn down
Students at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, Ont. are being investigated after a video was posted online showing students tearing down a LGBTQ2S+ pride flag.
Special air quality statement remains in effect, rain possible over the weekend
As wildfire smoke blankets Ontario and eastern U.S., causing hazardous air quality and hazy skies, smoke in the Forest City is expected to remain until at least Thursday night.
City pitches new parking garage and extended free parking to aid downtown London, Ont.’s recovery
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honk Mobile Parking App has offered two hours of free municipal parking in London’s core area business districts.
Trustee suspended over posts targeting LGBTQ2S+ community, division says
A Manitoba school trustee has been suspended over social media posts the division says targeted the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Continued closure of Fort Gibraltar causing changes for soon to be married couples
The closure of Fort Gibraltar following the collapse of an elevated walkway that sent 16 students and one teacher to hospital has left some couples scrambling to find a place to get married.
Crash with stolen vehicle sends two Winnipeg officers to hospital
A section of Main Street is closed on Wednesday morning following a car crash in the area.
Poor air quality in Waterloo region and Guelph will continue into the weekend: Environment Canada
There's high levels of air pollution in Waterloo region and Wellington County as smoke plumes from wildfires burning in Quebec and northeastern Ontario continue to blow into the region, Environment Canada says.
Six Region of Waterloo councillors announce support for amalgamation
One unified city – that’s what six Region of Waterloo councillors say they want when it comes to the future of the region’s municipal governance.
Habitat for Humanity nears completion of new affordable housing units
The work never stops at Habitat for Humanity when it comes to building affordable homes for families in Waterloo region.
Council reconsiders decision to reject recommendations on affordability crisis
Calgary city council has reconsidered its decision to vote against recommendations made by an expert panel to address the city’s housing affordability crisis.
Man on mobility scooter hit by truck in northeast Calgary intersection
Police say a man on a mobility scooter has life-altering injuries after he was struck by a vehicle in a northeast Calgary intersection on Wednesday evening.
Hot, dry weather comes with cautions and a few benefits
Calgary was under a heat warning Wednesday with forecast high of 29C.
Saskatoon property taxes could see 13 per cent hike as city confronts $75M revenue gap
Significant property tax hikes may be needed to cover a funding shortfall, according to City of Saskatoon administration.
Saskatoon builder looking to flip abandoned homes to first time buyers
A Saskatoon man wants to play matchmaker for the unloved homes in the city.
Latest season of survivalist series 'Alone' filmed in Sask., set to premiere June 8
The rugged wilderness of northern Saskatchewan was host to survivalists from all walks of life, vying to win the top prize of the popular series 'Alone.'
Albertans asked to conserve electricity Wednesday evening due to hot temperatures
Hot temperatures across Alberta prompted a grid alert Wednesday afternoon.
'A long time coming': Edmonton Catholics commit $3.2M to Indigenous reconciliation fund
The Archdiocese of Edmonton will spend $3.2 million on reconciliation initiatives with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the Alberta capital region.
'Major travel delays': Anthony Henday Drive bridge will be closed this weekend
Drivers are being asked to find another way or prepare for delays on the Henday this weekend, because crews need to close a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.
Out-of-control wildfire on Lower Mainland sees massive growth
A human-caused wildfire on the Lower Mainland has grown to an estimated 800 hectares and continues to burn out of control Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
'You don't listen to renters': Vancouver Tenants Union disrupts housing announcement
Rental housing advocates interrupted an announcement by B.C.'s housing minister in Vancouver Wednesday morning to object to the provincial government's response to the affordability crisis.
Vancouver voice actors concerned about AI cloning voices without consent
Advances in artificial intelligence means software can generate accurate voice clones that sound just like the real thing, but that's putting some actors in a precarious position, including Vancouver's Bill Newton.
Future uncertain for residents of bulldozed Regina homeless camp
The dwellings of around a dozen Regina residents experiencing homelessness were bulldozed after calls from the property owner.
Less than 50% of Indigenous students graduate from provincial schools, report says
Indigenous graduation rates are sliding in the province, according to Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor.
Regina city council asks for debt limit increase
Regina city council has asked its administration to pursue permission from the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) to increase its debt limit to $780 million.