Earlier, we exclusively reported information technology bureaucrats at the ministry of labour and citizens' services got major provincial government contractors to pay for their drinks, meals and gifts at a staff appreciation event this past May. But that wasn't the only controversy created by the event, which was held at Romano's Macaroni Grill in Victoria. Asked for feedback, an employee admitted "that was nice but at taxpayer's expense seems a bit of overkill." And it's easy to see why someone may have been left with that impression. According to records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, government money was also used to purchase party favours for the 80 workplace application services staff invited to the event - including brooches, decorative plates, fleece blankets and placques. The total cost: $2,227.63.
"Ministries are allowed to spend a modest sum to acknowledge work that's performed by public service individuals as a demonstration of appreciation. And that policy allows us to give up to $100 per employee - or in more in some special cases," explained labour and citizens' services communication manager Linda O'Connor. "If you take the total cost (of the party favours) and divide it by 80, it works out to $28 per person which is well within that corporate policy. Basically it's about retaining employees. It's a small token of acknowledgement. It's in return for boosting their morale and keeping a healthy, engaged place of work for them."