A member of Parliament isn’t a fan of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expensive empty regional ministers’ offices that have no regional ministers around to use them.
“Maybe the government doesn’t even know they have the offices, maybe they’ve forgotten, but I don’t think that’s possible,” said Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. “They have them, I’d like to know why.”
The Ontario MP dug up documents showing that taxpayers are still paying millions of dollars for the offices, even though the prime minister stopped appointing regional ministers back in 2015.
The federal department in charge of the offices, Public Services and Procurement Canada, told the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that the annual cost is even higher than Angus was first told, with the average spending on the government ghost offices clocking in at a whopping $5.1 million a year.
The feds are now saying the offices are needed during the COVID-19 pandemic so cabinet ministers can video link their meetings. However, the offices were already spending nearly $3 million per year before the pandemic and travel shut down.
“We will soon have to tackle a federal deficit that could be $300 billion so we simply don’t have millions of dollars to spend on regional offices for non-existent ministers,” said Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Angus wants answers too.
“Why do we have them? I just don’t like money going to certain areas where there is no clear reason. Canadians should be able to say ‘I understand, that makes sense,’ or ‘wow, let’s stop that,’ and move funds somewhere they could be of use,” said Angus.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has asked Public Services and Procurement Canada for the hard numbers on just how much the offices were being used during the pandemic.
They declined to provide that information.