OTTAWA — A new report finds Canada’s army of 375,500 federal civil servants costs taxpayers almost $44 billion per year in salaries, benefits and pensions, with the average annual full-time compensation more than $114,000.
In his latest report, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page found that federal civil servants received raises that "outpaced not only (consumer price index) inflation but also compensation growth in the Canadian business sector and the provincial and territorial levels of government over the last ten years."
Page’s study examined how government budget plans will affect the civil service.
He expects that by 2014-15, the Conservatives will have shrunk the federal government workforce to about 350,000 people, but their average yearly compensation will hit almost $130,000.
The president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says he’s alarmed.
"The civil service has gained significantly in terms of the overall wage package and they’ve still maintained benefits that are kind of on a different planet than anyone else in the private sector has," said Dan Kelly.
He says civil servants should accept that taxpayers treat them very well.
"Their unions have convinced them that they are, in fact, under-compensated and if only they had the big fat bonuses of the private sector that they would be much better off, when the reality is that the civil servants are offered a much, much better deal than us unwashed taxpayers," said Kely.
No one from the Public Service Alliance of Canada was available for comment. And NDP labour critic Alexandre Boulerice says he hasn’t seen the report.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement has seen the report.
He disputes the PBO’s numbers, saying there are really 420,000 federal employees who cost taxpayers $40 billion per year, $3 billion less than Page’s estimate.
That works out to an average compensation cost of $95,000 per year, not $114,000 as Page reported.
Clement also says his forecast for average yearly compensation for federal civil servants will be just shy of $102,000 by 2014-15, which is 21% lower than the PBO figure.
Still, Clement admits taxpayers face a hefty bill.
"These are large numbers we’re speaking of," said Clement. "There’s no question about that."
He claims the PBO’s most dramatic predictions won’t come true because the feds are cutting the civil service by about 19,000 jobs, increasing employees’ pension contributions, and ending voluntary severance payments.
"There is more to be done, but we’ve made a good start on it," said Clement.