The Canadian Taxpayers Federation today held its 23rd annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony and a couple of Metro Vancouver institutions were included in the nominations.
The Teddy Waste Awards celebrate the "best of the worst in government waste uncovered in the past year" and this year the ceremony was held in a virtual presentation.
The Teddy, a pig-shaped award given annually by the CTF to government’s worst waste offenders, is named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 for submitting a panoply of dubious expense claims, including a $700 lunch for two.
Vancouver City Council was nominated for spending a staggering $316,000 on designer office furniture at the same time Mayor Kennedy Stewart publicly complained that the city was facing a COVID-related cash crunch.
A shipment of Herman Miller Furniture chairs, which typically sell for more than $1,000 each, were spotted being hauled into city premises at 453 West 12 Ave in the fall of 2020.
TransLink was also included in the roundup of wasteful nominees for reversing the pay cuts agency executives took in the spring of 2020. Back then, they stated that they would all be taking a 10 per cent pay cut. However, freedom of information requests obtained by the CTF revealed that they "used federal and provincial emergency COVID money to quietly reverse the very pay cuts."
Federal Teddy Winner: Former governor general Julie Payette
Former governor general Julie Payette tenure at Rideau Hall was apparently "less than friendly to her staff and it wasn’t taxpayer friendly either," notes the CTF.
“Former governor general Julie Payette blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on her inauguration and bizarre housing renovations before resigning under a cloud of controversy,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick. “And the Quebec government’s remarkable ability to crash ferries into docks has soaked taxpayers for millions."
Payette spent more than $650,000 on her swearing-in ceremony and another half a million on renovations at the governor general’s residence, although she never actually moved in. As a former Governor General, she will continue to collect up to $200,000 annually, too.
Provincial Teddy Winner: The Government of Québec (Société des traversiers du Québec)
The Quebec government’s ferry agency bought a ship called the F.A. Gauthier, to shuttle people across the St. Lawrence at a cost of $175 million, but the ship turned out to be a "very expensive lemon and had to undergo repairs."
In order to continue the ferry service, the STQ bough a used ship from Newfoundland for $2 million and "proceeded to crash it twice within the first month of service before it was written off as unseaworthy. Last but certainly not least, the agency bought a third ship and spent $45 million putting it into service and it too has twice hit a dock," explains the CTF
Municipal Teddy Winner: The City of Toronto’s cancelled bike lanes
Last year, the City of Toronto spent $160,000 to build four kilometres of bike lanes on Brimley Road, but then it decided to tear them out just five months later, which the CTF says cost taxpayers another $80,000. "That means taxpayers wasted a quarter million dollars – equal to the property tax bill of 80 Toronto households – with nothing to show for it."
Lifetime Achievement Teddy: the Phoenix Pay System
"The Phoenix Pay System is a beleaguered federal project that spans 12 years, two governments and more than $2 billion of wasted taxpayers’ money. Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Phoenix pay system project started as a plan by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to save taxpayers money and ended up doing quite the opposite," explains the CTF.
"Phoenix’s cost overruns and delays saw thousands of federal bureaucrats not getting paid properly for years, or, in some cases, paid far too much. The Trudeau Liberals also deserve part of the blame after they ignored repeated warnings that the system was not ready and decided to launch it anyway. Phoenix has finally been fixed, but one last news story has risen from the ashes to stiff taxpayers: earlier this year it was revealed that bonus payments totalling $1.7 million were paid to senior bureaucrats responsible for the program’s implementation."