Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cost of prorogation: $48 million + 222 lost jobs

CBC looks into the question:
* 222 seasonal employees (who only work when Parliament sits) have been temporarily laid off. These represent a wide range of employees, from dishwashers in the cafeteria, to translators and other clerks who work on the official Hansard record of proceedings. Many of these staff are in lower pay scales.
* The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing many of these workers, says about 120 of these employees risk losing pension and health benefits. (If their annual hours drop below 700 hours, they cease to be considered employees.)
* A reasonable estimate for the operating costs of the 22 days Parliament is now NOT sitting during this prorogation period is more than $48 million. While the salaries these layoffs represent, as well as other activity-based costs, will be saved while nothing is happening on Parliament Hill, the rest of this cost remains, no matter what.
* It's difficult to estimate exactly how much taxpayers are spending without receiving any value in the form of legislative progress, but suffice to say it may be significant.
Very tough and unfortunate times for those workers on Parliament Hill, an important human cost that's been brought to the public's attention now, as a result of this politically motivated prorogation.

$48 million.

A reminder of what Mr. Harper said the other day:
"'It is essential that government limit public spending,' Harper said outside Rideau Hall following the morning ceremony to swear-in ministers to their new portfolios."
The hypocrisy and lack of credibility abounds.

Congrats to blogger The Scott Ross for pushing the question.

Update: And note the unresolved question, it is difficult to quantify the cost of wasted legislative time on bills that have now gone by the wayside. That is significant.

Update II: Make sure you watch the video report at the CBC link, the reporter Hannah Thibodeau explains that the figures come from Public Accounts and she provides a little more context around the employees who have been laid off and what prorogation means to them.