Taxpayer-funded bonuses have totalled over $1.5 billion since 2015

Franco TerrazzanoWelcome to Ottawa, A.K.A the land of limitless bonuses, where taxpayer cash is plentiful and no failure is left unrewarded.

The feds dished out $406 million in bonuses in 2023 – $195 million to bureaucrats in Crown corporations and $211 million to bureaucrats in federal departments.

Bureaucrats working in federal departments have raked in more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded bonuses since 2015. Every year, about 90 percent of government executives receive a bonus, for an average of about $18,000.

What have these government executives done to deserve a bonus?

“Less than 50 percent of (performance) targets are consistently met within the same year,” according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

In the real world, when you can’t even meet half of your own performance targets, you should polish up your resume, not expect an $18,000 bonus cheque.

Bonuses for bureaucrats failure: Taxpayers pay the price
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But Ottawa isn’t the real world.

Here are the government’s performance results for the past five years. In every year but one, federal departments didn’t meet half of their targets. In 2022, government departments managed to meet 50.3 percent of their targets.

No matter, bonuses anyway!

Rewarding failure with bonuses is also common practice in federal Crown corporations.

The Bank of Canada’s mandate is to keep inflation around “two percent inside a control range of one to three percent.”

In 2021, inflation was 3.4 percent. The Bank of Canada handed out more than $18 million in bonuses.

In 2022, inflation reached 6.8 percent, representing “a 40-year high, the largest increase since 1982,” according to Statistics Canada. The Bank of Canada handed out more than $20 million in bonuses.

Inflation was 3.9 percent last year. The Bank of Canada handed out more than $23 million in bonuses.

The Bank of Canada’s own deputy governor acknowledged “we haven’t managed to keep inflation at our target,” adding that Canada’s central bankers “should be held accountable.”

Handing out bonuses is an odd way to hold your organization accountable for failing to do its one and only job.

Then there’s the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The CMHC has repeatedly said it’s “driven by one goal: housing affordability for all.”

In April 2024, the Royal Bank of Canada said it was the “toughest time ever to afford a home.” But Canadians’ struggles to afford a home didn’t stop the CMHC from congratulating itself with $102 million in bonuses over the last four years.

Last year, 100 percent of CMHC executives took a bonus, for an average of $83,000.

The CBC is no stranger to the taxpayer cookie jar.

The CBC handed out $15 million in bonuses to 1,100 staff in 2023. Meanwhile, CBC announced hundreds of layoffs just before Christmas. And President Catherine Tait claimed the state broadcaster is plagued by “chronic underfunding.”

What’s worse? That Tait thinks the CBC is chronically underfunded but refuses to end the bonuses. Or that she thinks the CBC is chronically underfunded even though it takes more than $1 billion from taxpayers every year.

All told, the CBC has handed out $114 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses since 2015.

Some politicians are taking notice.

After the Canadian Taxpayers Federation exposed the Bank of Canada’s bonuses, Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre said, “If a working Canadian fails to do their job, they get fired,” but when central bankers “fail to do their job, they are rewarded with huge tax-funded bonuses.”

Poilievre also said he would “cancel bonuses for failing government authorities, and that would include, for example, the Bank of Canada and the CBC.”

Canadians shouldn’t have to wait for the next election for the feds to stop rewarding failure.

The government must immediately end the bonuses.

Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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