With Parliament now fully back in session in Ottawa, legislation is being tabled and debated, committees are operating and, as the official Opposition, we are pressing the government on important issues and making recommendations with actions.
One important issue that is surfacing is the large increase in consulting contracts granted by the government.
An analysis by the Globe and Mail reported there was a 41.8% increase in spending on consulting contracts from the 2015-16 fiscal year to the 2020-21 fiscal year. That represents billions of dollars.
One issue that came to light were consulting contracts with McKinsey & Co., which receiving at least $100 million.
McKinsey & Co. is an international consulting firm, offering management advice to companies and governments worldwide with consultancy fees ranging as high as $1,500 an hour.
While previous governments have sought its services, the CBC reported the current government contracted with McKinsey 30 times more often than the previous Conservative government, lead by Stephen Harper.
A department given a large number of contracts was Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). A source from within IRCC told CBC, “In the end, we don’t have any idea what they did.”
Conservatives led the charge to work with other opposition parties to call for a Parliamentary committee to investigate these high-priced consulting contracts.
While their work is ongoing, we have to consider what value these types of contracts provide when the federal government employs more than 330,000 public service professionals, including a host of experts in economics, science, communications, management and human resources. Over the eight fiscal years since taking office, the current government has expanded the federal workforce by almost 31%, at the same time as increasing consulting contracts.
Few Canadians would say their experience with services like immigration processing, passport renewals or dealing with Canada Revenue Agency issues has improved over the past eight years. Despite the hard work of public servants, top-down mismanagement and policies of departments resulted in previously unheard of wait lines and wait times.
Recent reporting also found the $54 million ArriveCAN app was created and designed by a two-person company, GCstrategies, that subcontracted to third-party multinational companies. Other organizations said they could have created the app in a weekend for less than $1 million.
Following not far behind questions of responsible fiscal management come a question of ethics. A concerning trend has grown in this government’s handling of outside contracts.
Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Minister Mary Ng was recently found in violation of federal ethics laws for a contract she awarded to the public relations firm, Pomp and Circumstance, managed by her close friend Amanda Alvaro.
Diversity, Inclusion and Youth Minister Ahmed Hussen is being forced to answer questions regarding his spending of $93,000 on public relations advice from Munch More Media, a food marketing company staffed by the sister of one of his senior staff members.
Ensuring responsible use of tax dollars is essential. At the same time, there are committed professionals working for the federal government, delivering Canadians the services they need and deserve.
(Conservatives MPs) will ask the tough questions about the excessive increases in consulting contracts and in how ministers are held responsible for the service standards, contracts and operations of their departments.
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