Paying government officials to stay home and do nothing in the COVID-19 pandemic has so far cost Ottawa $ 439 million


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OTTAWA – Canada’s budget watchdog says the federal government has lost at least $ 439 million so far this year in productivity thanks to a policy that allows public servants to stay home, on a salary, when emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Parliamentary Budget Office says most of that total is attributable to the fact that Canada Revenue Agency employees were left at home, unable to work, between March 15 and May 31.

This department alone accounted for just over $ 311 million in paid leave, far ahead of the second most expensive department, Correctional Service Canada, with over $ 33.8 million.

The PBO report was commissioned by Conservative Edmonton MP Kelly McCauley, who wanted to know the financial implications of the policy, known as pay code 699.

The policy allows federal employees paid time off for emergencies such as being sick with COVID-19, needing to self-quarantine, not being able to access the technology they need to complete their jobs, and having to take care of dependents.

It does not require the employee to use other forms of paid leave first, such as vacation, family emergencies, or accumulated sick leave.

The PBO said 699 costs could be closer to $ 623 million, government-wide, because the Treasury Board Secretariat, which is responsible for the public service, only provided information on 62 of the 88 federal public service organizations, representing approximately 70% of departments. .

The PBO notes that it has not been able to find a leave policy of a similar scope in the private sector.


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