Quebec program review aimed at slashing budget to cost $3.8 million

Photo: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

A commission set up by Quebec's Liberal government to review government programs and cut back on spending will cost taxpayers at least $3.8 million in its first year of operation.

That's according to a "conservative" estimate outlined in documents obtained by The Canadian Press under Access-to-Information legislation.

Salaries account for much of the projected cost.

Annual pay for the commission's president, ex-Liberal cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard, as well as four expert consultants is estimated to total $1.03 million.

Robillard's annual salary is set at $265,000, which breaks down as $1,100 per day for eight hours work over 240 days. The salary for each of the four experts is set at $192,500, or $800 per day.

Martin Coiteux, the province's treasury board president, said the aim of the review is to find out which government programs are most effective, which can be improved and which should be eliminated.

The ultimate goal of the commission, announced on June 11, is to cut $3.2 billion in government expenses by next year to help balance the province's books.

Coiteux defended the Liberal government on Sunday, saying the program review will be the first of its kind for Quebec.

"Over the years, the number of government programs has multiplied, without actually doing the review that will be implemented with the commission," he said.

The opposition Parti Quebecois and Francois Legault's Coalition party argue the commission is unnecessary and is tasked with a job Premier Philippe Couillard's government should be doing itself.

Elaine Zakaib, the PQ's treasury board critic, said it suggests a "lack of vision" under the current government and an attempt to skirt responsibility.

"Programs are something that should be continuously evaluated when you're in government," Zakaib said in an interview.

Guillaume Simard-Leduc, a spokesman for the Coalition party, said the commission's cost indicates the Liberals "weren't ready to govern" when they won a majority last April.

Other anticipated costs under the commission include an operational budget estimated at $1.2 million, primarily for the rent of an office space and equipment, as well as various contracts which weren't detailed in the documents.

Another $640,000 is set aside for eight employees of the commission's secretariat, who will each receive $80,000 annually. A similar amount is pegged for eight more staff assigned to work on the review.

Robillard is also eligible to have $300 in expenses covered per month, in accordance with a notice posted in the July edition of the Quebec Gazette.

In addition, $250,000 is budgeted for "websites," which will include a comment section for Quebecers to offer feedback on the commission.

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  • 11
  1. Mike d posted on 08/03/2014 08:14 PM
    Wow this is doctor money!
  2. RAP posted on 08/03/2014 09:25 PM
    More wasted taxpayers money! When will it stop?
    1. LAMO posted on 08/04/2014 11:28 AM
      @RAP Not until we run out of money for them to waste
  3. ric posted on 08/03/2014 10:10 PM
    Without much study and no salary, I can save the government 12 million this year. Stop this idiotic commission before it even starts. That's the problem with government, every body is overpaid with benefits.
  4. Mary Newton posted on 08/04/2014 06:00 AM
    Please, give me the $1100. a day and I'll tell you which programs to cut. For God's sake anyone could tell them where the waste in money is. For one big savings shut down the Office de la langue.....Francaise.
  5. More BS posted on 08/04/2014 07:12 AM
    This why the term government intelligence is an oxymoron.
  6. Juge posted on 08/04/2014 08:15 AM
    Notice how the size of ALL the lettering on the sign on the podium Premier Couillard is standing behind is the same size? Interesting how the government chooses to do it properly, respectfully, intelligently, (choose or add your adjective) when they KNOW people from outside the province are looking, but insists on imposing such a stupid law, through the Language Police on its own citizens and businesses. Now that the PQ is out of our face, when will the Liberal government man-up and change this insane, imposing, draconian law?
  7. LMAO posted on 08/04/2014 11:26 AM
    Elaine Zakaib, the PQ's treasury board critic, said it suggests a "lack of vision" under the current government and an attempt to skirt responsibility.

    Yeah like they would know anyway.
  8. Karla Liebrandt posted on 08/04/2014 01:42 PM
    A lot of the solutions to the Quebec problems are staring this government in the face. However, they are too afraid to do anything for fear of upsetting special interest groups. Hence this so-called committee, led by a former MP who is on pension, and on top of all this, making over $1000.00 a day?! I have a few suggestions for this elite group: So you want to encourage investment? Here are three things this gang should have done the minute they got in. 1)- Make Quebec bilingual. Two languages, French & English, written & spoken. 2)- Abolish Bill 101. Complete freedom of choice. #3- Get rid of the OQLF completely. That's just a start. Now, eliminate duplicity, redundancy and overlap in the civil service. There are presently over 450,000 people employed by the Quebec government. Reduce by 10% a year for 4 years=270,000 at the end of the cycle. We do NOT need an International Relations department. We are not a country. Eliminate it. Instead of constantly taxing, find out where the money is going. When calling for tenders, (Contracts) impose stricter terms and guidelines. Make people accountable for their incompetence. The Charbonneau Commission has exposed to us a lot of that. To sum up, all this government has to do is look in the mirror and find out where a lot of the waste is. But at the end of the day, they won't do any of these things. Meanwhile, people will continue to leave because of the ridiculous tax burden and the unabated corruption. If we don't get a dose of shock treatment and soon, this province will be another Greece.
  9. Unreal! posted on 08/06/2014 07:09 AM
    That is like saying I have to lose weight but I will gain 500 pounds first.
  10. adam posted on 08/12/2014 05:26 PM
    sooo how to you people love the Liberal government now piff hahahaha, dosent matter who we vote for its al the same b.s.
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