The public sector swells

What do Canada’s public sector and Inter Miami’s fan base have in common? 

Both got much bigger in 2023. 

Driving the news: Canada’s federal public service ballooned to a record 274,219 workers last year, per the Public Service Commission of Canada’s annual report. That’s 6.5% more employees than the year before and 40.4% more since this government took office. 

  • The feds hired 71,200 new workers — a 10% annual jump — with program administration and clerical and regulatory positions seeing the most hires. 

Why it matters: Hiring more federal workers isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, especially as immigration soars and more people than ever will use government services. That said, beefing up bureaucracy costs billions, and Canada isn’t necessarily getting bang for its buck.   

  • A recent Auditor General’s probe concluded Immigration Canada still has very long processing times despite recent measures to reduce backlogs, like increased hiring.

  • Last March, the Canadian Transportation Agency received increased funding to hire more workers to deal with a backlog of passenger complaints. By October, the backlog had increased from 42,000 cases awaiting resolution to a record 61,000.

Zoom out: In addition to a bloated public sector, the feds have also shovelled money into the private sector, racking up massive tabs hiring consulting firms. They spent $18.6 billion on consultants in the 2022-23 fiscal year, creating multiple scandals in the process.—QH