• 03/02/11 - - 21% Increase in budget of Correctional Service Canada

    - - 21% Increase in budget of Correctional Service Canada

    By Andrew Mayeda, Mike De Souza and Amy Minsky, Postmedia News: Despite plans to increase spending on security and public safety, the Harper government expects to cut federal spending by more than $10 billion this year.

    The Conservative government projects that it will spend $250.8 billion in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That is a reduction of $10.4 billion from the previous year, and represents a four-per-cent decrease in overall spending, according to federal forecasts tabled Tuesday in Parliament.

    "Canadian business people, Canadian families, as they go through times of looking at their expenses, they does so in a responsible manner," Treasury Board President Stockwell Day said in releasing the documents. "They expect their government to do so also."

    It is the first time in more than a decade that the government's main estimates forecast a decline in overall spending. Last year, the federal government racked up a record $56-billion deficit. These latest spending estimates suggest the Tories want to be perceived as disciplined belt-tighteners ahead of a potential spring election.

    Not surprisingly, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff dismissed the spending cuts as a late-game attempt by the Conservatives to win back a reputation for fiscal rectitude.

    "Don't forget, this is the highest-spending government in Canadian history between 2006, 2010," he said. "So they're suddenly ... producing some new rabbits out of the hat about their spending discipline. Last week they spent the whole week spraying money around the country. We think they've got a substantial credibility problem."

    not, the Tories' efforts to demonstrate fiscal prudence are largely made possible by a $7.4-billion decrease in transfer payments, including a $2.6-billion reduction in employment insurance transfers to individuals largely because of improving economic conditions. Another big factor in the spending decrease is a $3.4-billion drop in debt charges as a result of lower-than-expected interest rates.

    Still, the Conservatives have imposed spending cuts on numerous government departments -but not all. Even amid the cuts there are some big winners, particularly the public safety departments and national security agencies. Spending in these areas is set to increase about 10 per cent in 2011-2012, or $797 million more than the $7.9 billion forecasted last year.

    Correctional Services Canada, which oversees the country's prisons, will see its budget increase $521.6 million, or more than 21 per cent above last year's $2.5-billion budget estimate. The increase is tied to spending on custody and community supervision, as well as to $458 million for implementing new sentencing laws that produce longer jail sentences -legislation Public Safety Minister Vic Toews once said would cost $90 million.

    The Canada Border Services Agency is expected to spend 14 per cent more than last year, or an extra $227 million.

    Other departments will not fare so well. Environmental and cultural programs are taking hits.

    Spending on environmental programs and services across various departments is expected to drop 14 per cent. This includes a $928-million -or 21 per cent -spending reduction at Natural Resources, and a $222 million -or 20 per cent -spending cut at Environment Canada.

    A good portion of the Natural Resources reduction involves a $390-million decrease in spending that results from the ending of a retrofit program that subsidized homeowners for renovations to reduce energy consumption.

    Environment Canada's funding reductions in the department also include a 59-per-cent reduction -from $240 million to $90 million -in annual climate change-related and clear air initiatives. According to the department, these measures "served to inform Canada's domestic regulatory approach to greenhouse gas emissions, provide a platform to deepen engagement with the U.S. on climate change issues and enhance Canada's visibility as an international leader in clean energy technology."

    The department will also see a $19.5-million reduction related to the government winding down plans to deal with contaminated federal sites, as well as about $3 million in cuts for the enforcement of wildlife and pollution laws and compliance promotion.

    Spending on cultural programs is also set to drop by 4.5 per cent, and includes a $114-million decrease in funding -or 14 per cent -for Parks Canada.

    Overall, operating and capital spending by the federal government is expected to be more or less flat, despite the winding down of billions in spending under the Conservatives' two-year, $46-billion stimulus package. Spending by Infrastructure Canada, which co-ordinated stimulus spending on numerous infrastructure projects across the country, is projected to fall by $3.3 billion. The budgets at the industry and transport departments, which also oversaw stimulus programs, will shrink significantly.

    Day, who unveiled the spending figures at an Ottawa fitness club in a not-so-subtle allusion to the Tories' intention to balance the budget within five years, downplayed the environmental and cultural cuts, saying it's not unusual to reallocate spending from one department to another. "There's a lot of movement (in spending) between programs."

    Critics weren't so sanguine. Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland said Canadians can expect even more money to be poured into correctional services. The bill for implementing new sentencing laws "is just at the beginning of its ramp-up," he said. "And it's only one bill. Government has another 24 bills before Parliament that are going to have implications for corrections systems. In the end, we're going to be crushed by the enormity of the cost of all this."

    "They're hacking prevention, they're hacking safe communities initiatives, and they're just loading it all up in post-crime approach," said NDP public safety critic Don Davies.

    NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair thought the cuts to environmental programs were "a real calamity."

    The spending estimates don't include expenditures or tax initiatives that could be included in the next federal budget, which is expected to be released later in March. But the figures do offer a glimpse at the Tories' intentions as they enforce a freeze on departmental operating budgets.

    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already indicated that the upcoming budget won't include major new spending programs or tax cuts.



    $250.8 billion: Total federal spending in 2011-12 main estimates

    $261.2 billion:  Total estimated spending in 2010-11

    $10.4 billion:    Decrease in estimated spending this fiscal year

    $221.5 billion:  Total estimated spending in 2008-09, the year Canada tipped into recession

    4 per cent:  Decrease this year in overall operating and capital spending

    21 per cent:  Increase in budget of Correctional Service Canada

    14 per cent:  Rise in spending by Canada Border Services Agency

    20 per cent:  Decrease in budget of Environment Canada

    14 per cent: Drop in spending by Parks Canada

  • Share |
    «« Back