The Sask. Party government is giving more than $120 million per year to consultants – but how much went to flights and meals instead of actual work? The government says it has no idea.
An application filed under freedom of information laws asking that question turned up nothing. A letter from the government says: “the ministry would have to retrieve and examine all invoices related to the consultant account codes and search each invoice for travel expenses.”
Since they don’t track that number, the government asked for an $11,835 payment to research the information.
“The government doesn’t even know how many millions of taxpayer dollars are being used for consultants’ flights, hotels and meals, as opposed to the amount that funds working hours and work product,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “The provincial auditor recently reported this government has spiked consultant use by 228 per cent, but failed to keep paperwork in most cases on what these consultants are doing or why we’re paying them.
“This is a misplaced priority. Saskatchewan families would much rather see those hundreds of millions of dollars go to front-line health care to shorten ER wait times, or stopping the cuts to teachers and educational assistants. Not hefty expense accounts for private consultants.”
According to the provincial auditor, spending on consultants has increased by 228 per cent since 2008-09, and was more than $120 million in 2014. The auditor reported that over 70 per cent of the contracts with consultants her office tested did not document why a consultant was needed, and over 90 per cent of the contracts her office examined did not specify the position to whom the consultant was to report.