Feds cut parking perks and limo driver overtime
(QMI Agency file photo)
The federal government is taking away some parking perks from top government bureaucrats and top political staffers.
But ministers won't have to worry about finding a place to park at work because they still have their taxpayer-funded limos and chauffeurs.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced the elimination of the parking perks in a speech Tuesday morning at an Ottawa hotel.
Clement said senior bureaucrats will no longer receive a subsidy to park their personal cars at work, a move which he said will save taxpayers $2.6 million a year.
These measures, Clement said, "send an important message that every nickel of taxpayers money should be scrupulously accounted for."
The opposition shrugged at the news.
"I would label this a diversionary tactic," said Liberal MP John McCallum. "They're focusing on things where they [might save] a few million dollars and totally ignore the billions and billions on things like F35s."
The upper echelon of senior bureaucrats - the Auditor General, the Official Languages Commissioner and so on - still qualify for a personal car and driver paid for by the government.
Clement is also cutting subsidized parking spots for chiefs of staff to each cabinet minister. The chief of staff is the top political staffer in each minister's office. That measure will save the government about $40,000 a year.
And, though Clement and his cabinet colleagues won't have to worry about parking because they get their own government car and driver, Clement has taken steps to curb a monster overtime bill that those drivers were racking up.
Earlier this year, it emerged that the overtime bill alone for the drivers topped $600,000.
Drivers now have had their employment status changed and will no longer be able to claim overtime.
Instead, they've been given "exempt status" - the same status as political staffers - and their maximum annual salary has been raised to $66,000 a year.
Still, by eliminating overtime, the government expects to save as as much as $225,000 a year and possibly more.
Like the Liberals, the NDP called Clement's initiatives "a distraction."
"They really even haven't solved the fundamental problem," said NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat. "I mean they want to get rid of overtime for the limo drivers but they really don't want to look at how much they actually use the limos and whether or not that's an abuse. So they don't want to get rid of their perks, it's clear."