Most organizations and departments affected by the Liberal government’s $500 million spending cut plan say the cuts will not impact services, according to a new report from Parliament’s independent budget officer.
The PBO asked all 68 affected organizations to submit a breakdown of their planned savings and released the report on Monday.
Only four companies reported a decline in service levels, according to the report.
Last November, the federal government announced plans to cut government spending, starting with an effort to cut spending on professional services and travel by $500 million in 2023-24.
The federal government defines “professional services” as referring to professional assistance, advice, training, and operational and maintenance services.
The government says additional spending cuts promised over the next five years will save $15.4 billion.
In an interview with CBC, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux said she would be “very surprised” if the current cuts had any impact on services, given the focus on travel and outsourcing.
Giroux also said $500 million is “a small drop in the bucket” considering how much the federal government spends in the fiscal year.
In November, Treasury Board President Anita Anand submitted a document estimating spending of more than $440 billion in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
Anand said at the time that $350 million of the spending cuts would affect outsourcing and contractors. Travel expenses would decrease by $150 million.
One of the organizations that reported service cuts was Correctional Service Canada, which said reduced travel costs would impact some inmate movements, including in-person court appearances.
The Treasury Board maintains that the spending cuts do not affect full-time equivalent employees, known as FTEs.
Public Services and Procurement Canada alone identified 49 FTE reductions for “positions that are already vacant and unfilled,” according to the report.
Some organizations are finding savings elsewhere
According to the PBO, three government departments did not report a breakdown of their savings: Defense, Indigenous Services Canada and the Privy Council Office.
The Department of Defense told the PBO that the department’s $211 million in savings was not related to any specific program. Instead, the money is earned by reducing the amount of forfeited funds that can be carried forward and spent in the next fiscal year.
Indigenous Services reported savings of $17 million in departmental reserves.
The Privy Council Office reported that the $1.3 million in savings “represents general reductions across the organization” through measures such as streamlining the management structure.
Conservative Party spokesperson Sebastian Skamski criticized the cuts in a media statement, saying, “Half of Prime Minister Trudeau’s so-called spending cuts are accounting tricks that take advantage of unfulfilled and unfulfilled commitments to our military and Indigenous services.” ” he said.
“We are encouraged by the fact that 94% of departments have reported no disruption to service delivery,” Anand said in a media statement.
“This was an important and powerful exercise to consider the financial sustainability of each proposal and to ensure that future service delivery disruptions do not occur,” she added.