The Campbell administration spent $587,791.06 on parties to celebrate civil service achievements, Public Eye has exclusively learned. But the government says such celebrations are needed to help retain and recruit employees in a tight labour market. According to documents obtained via a freedom of information request, the government paid out at least $77,564.63 catering to the dining desires of the 1,813 bureaucrats and guests who were scheduled to attend the premier's fourth annual innovation and excellence awards.
Among the menu items for the awards - which included four regional and one provincial ceremony - were salmon baked with fresh dill, rosemary crusted free range chicken breast, apple tart with sweet cream and caramel sauce and Vienna chocolate caramel tort. Swag worth $39,759.14 - including umbrellas, scarves and pins - was also handed out at the parties.
But the big ticket item at $149,726.71 was the production of video interviews with award nominees, as well as five "fun, high energy" ceremony opening videos "intended to inspire government employees and guests about the range, quality and importance of work in the public service."
Asked for comment, Canadian Taxpayers Federation provincial communications director Maureen Bader said, "It's an extremely irresponsible example of spending."
"It's not a crime to celebrate success," she continued. "The problem in government is that they're spending other people's money."
But government spokesman Richard Chambers defended the expenditure saying, "We're proud of our employees and the work they do. And these ceremonies - not parties - are an important way we show our appreciation and show their colleagues, their families and the public the positive impact that these people are making day-in and day-out." The following is a complete copy of the expenditures for the awards.
Expenditures for fiscal 2007/08 premier's innovation and excellence awards
Adjudicators/Judges Expenses $7,694.97
Audio-Visual Requirements $86,315.11
Award Material $24,603.79
Business Expenses for Adjudication/Judges Sessions $2,481.11
Catering/Facilities, etc. $104,579.92
Marketing and Communications $14,486.25
Miscellaneous (swag/shipping, etc.) $7,159.15
Newspaper Ads $22,254.22
Printing (including program guides) $18,497.41
Staff Travel $16,763.31
Staff Salary & Benefits $76,126.00
Video Production (all-inclusive) $149,726.71