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Paid leave for public service during pandemic cost $623M, well above estimates: budget watchdog


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Taxpayers spent $311 million covering paid leave for CRA officials alone, over 40,000 of whom accepted paid leave. The next largest cost was for employees at Correctional Service Canada ($33 million), the Canada Border Services Agency ($15 million) and Employment and Social Development Canada ($14 million).

Researchers at the PBO suggested the high proportion of CRA officials is possibly a result of tighter reporting requirements at the agency, which would in turn suggest that current data “is likely an underestimate of the number of hours of work lost during that period,” suggesting that true costs could be higher still.

Aaron Wudrick, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said costs for paid leave could reach the $1 billion marker by the time the pandemic has run its course, which he says underscores the overly generous nature of public extended leave.

“The 699 was not designed to cover indefinitely for massive numbers of people,” Wudrick said. “And so going forward, when they’re negotiating with the unions, the government needs to put some parameters around this.”

Both Wudrick and the PBO suggested that similar leave provisions did not exist in the private sector. As of July 12, more than eight million Canadians had applied for the $2,000-per-month CERB program, after private businesses went through successive rounds of widespread layoffs.

“The PBO was not able to find a leave policy of a similar scope in the private sector,” the report said.



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Democracy, budget, solidarity, climate : what Europe post-Covid19 ?


In the long run, Europe has greatly contributed to the process of globalization that has been underway since the time of the great explorations. In a short time, Europe has been hit very hard by the pandemic and a historic recession is on the way.

Nothing prevents from reviving the plans of the European Community for Health  proposed in 1952. In economics, on the other hand, it is pointless to expect a new Marshall plan from the United States of America. 

This continent is not starting from scratch, Europe’s architects built a shared European house where peace, freedom, democracy, prosperity, the rule of law and a certain solidarity prevail. Determined, drawing their convictions from a shared trauma, that of the horrors of war, they were resistors and death camp survivors  and their ideals and values formed the backbone of the European Union. “Nothing is possible without men, nothing lasts without institutions” explained Jean Monnet who had imagined this organisation: a European Commission seeks the common European general interest and makes its proposals to the Ministers of States (Council) and citizens’ representatives (European Parliament) under the supervision of a Court of Justice. This revolutionary architecture – of shared sovereignty – has allowed to peacefully unite 27 countries, to conduct common policies (agriculture, Erasmus, trade, common currency, European GPS Galileo, research …) and to form regulations that inspire the whole world (data protection, energy efficiency, etc.).

Today the European Union needs progress to ensure autonomy and power to Europe. The time has come for new generations to live up to the European heritage. Taxation, budget, external or social action, the EU must decide more by (qualified) majority as unanimity is not democratic and does paralyze it. To move forward, energize industry and materialize a solidarity felt by everyone, its common economic capacity must be increased tenfold (the European budget weighs 1% of its wealth, against 24% for the American federal state) and the EU must be able to borrow.

A helping hand from Europe must definitively supplement the invisible hand – with shared unemployment insurance or a real supranational European reserve of citizens who can be mobilised during crises (doctors, firefighters, etc.) for example – to keep European peoples hopes up. The EU motto “United in diversity” could then be supplemented as follows: “United in diversity and solidarity”. Europeans have the means to be united without being uniform, in solidarity rather than solitary, democrats rather than vetocrats, but there is still an additional meaningful role to be found, an universal ambition to meet its historical greatness.

The Covid-19 has revealed Europe’s vulnerability. It should be better prepared for the crises on which scientists alert us, and climate change is the most frightening: collapse of ecosystems, inhabitable regions, fall in agricultural yields if we continue the current trajectory. Therefore the EU must urgently mobilise all its tools for economic recovery and debt to fight global warming through a decarbonised and fair transition. The EU has an historic opportunity to do so and a duty to the younger generations from whom budgets will be borrowed. The “never again” united its oldest ones, the “everything but not that” linked to an uncontrollable climate change unites all Europeans today (93% according to a survey).

Just seventy years ago, six European countries gathered around the shared management of coal to maintain peace between states, Europe must now clearly unite towards full decarbonisation in 2050 to save ecosystems, but also and above all convince and inspire the world to take action. There will be no prosperity, no resilience of humanity without protected ecosystems. Like Ulysses after a long journey, the European civilisation will only have a lasting existence by completing this last test which will bring it the recognition of all.

This generation is the last to be in capacity to act, so let’s be bold, ambitious and inspiring, keeping in mind the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “We do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children”.



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PMQs: Boris Johnson faces Jeremy Corbyn ahead of 2020 budget – live news | Politics


Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.

The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.

He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.

He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.

The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.

The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.



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A Chancellor is gone before he’s even delivered a Budget. That’s not meant to happen.   – Channel 4 News



13 Feb 2020

Dominic Cummings’ push to decide who works in the Special Adviser tier across government and his desire to lash the Treasury to No. 10 has led to one of the biggest reshuffle upsets in living memory.

Dominic Cummings wanted to get rid of Sajid Javid for some time. It looked like he had lost that war and Whitehall sources were briefing overnight that Mr Javid would keep his job. But Dominic Cummings’ push to decide who works in the Special Adviser tier across government and his desire to lash the Treasury to No. 10 has led to one of the biggest reshuffle upsets in living memory.

Dominic Cummings and his allies wanted a Treasury relationship with No. 10 that was very distant from the Brown/Blair (2 centres of power) model. In an hour long chat this morning with Sajid Javid, the Prime Minister insisted that what he had in mind was the Osborne/Cameron (equals) model. But George Osborne had his own advisers who were very much his choices for the job. No. 10 did not crawl all over George Osborne’s Budgets before they were formed. I’m told that Mr Javid came away from No. 10 with the impression they had a very different relationship in mind, more servant/master.

Even without the many disagreements there have been while Sajid Javid has been at the Treasury (is he giving a speech or not, what are the current Spending controls, who should run the Bank of England and many more), there has been a hostility to the Treasury in Dominic Cummings’ mind for a long time. The Treasury was portrayed as the enemy in the Vote Leave camp in 2016 and in the years after that they and their offspring around Whitehall were blamed for softening Brexit beyond recognition.

As recently as the HS2 announcement in the Commons on Tuesday, Boris Johnson mentioned how the Treasury was forever against the best and most worthwhile projects when they were in their early phases.

The very fact Sajid Javid’s conversation happened in No. 10 not in the Prime Minister’s Commons office tells you this wasn’t meant to happen like this. In the Commons office, those who were meant to go were asked in one by one for chats with the PM. He sat with his adviser Ed Lister and the Chief Whip and two others on one side of the meeting room table. One he sacked said he was on “great form,” effusively thanking them for their role in his government but repeatedly saying “we need to make changes.” One other line this ex-minister recalls hearing was: “”We’ll look after you.”

Sajid Javid’s meeting wasn’t in that conveyor belt of gloom but in No. 10 itself. Did Dominic Cummings always secretly hope that he could jettison the Chancellor at this late hour or just chasten and reduce him? For his part, the PM persisted for one hour trying to persuade Mr Javid to stay in his job. Mr Javid decided he would not have credibility if he did it on the terms offered.

No. 10 has asserted control but risks looking chaotic. It has a new Chancellor with weeks left to draft a Budget at a critical juncture in the nation’s history.

Is it now a government that will spend more than it would have done under Sajid Javid? Is it a government in which “challenge” is accepted? One who was sacked today said to me: “I’m free of the Downing Street Thought Control Police.”

When the reshuffle started, Dominic Cummings wasn’t getting the dramatic re-jig he truly wanted. He still hasn’t got the re-design of Whitehall he pondered but he has got a mighty scalp.

Will some reflect that the last few hours are not the way things should happen? In his blog, Dominic Cummings recently advertised for outside brains to join the government and make his brain redundant. But, to some, today looks like a centralising mission to entrench government by one brain alone. And it is a brain that has dark thoughts about much of the machinery of British politics: the parties, the officials, institutions like the judiciary and more besides.



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Mayor defends Vernon’s 4.9% tax increase in 2020 budget – Okanagan


Many city councils have been crunching the numbers for their 2020 budgets, and in Vernon, the result is a significant tax increase.

Vernon rate payers will be levied almost 4.9 per cent more next year.

However, the city’s mayor is defending the tax hike, saying the money will translate into extra services.


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“It is really quite a level budget matching inflation,” Mayor Victor Cumming said.

“The only difference we’ve really done is added these extra services in fire, in safety and in recreation.”






Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review


Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review

Along with extra funding for bylaw and recreation staffing, the 2020 budget will see the city continuing with an infrastructure catch-up program to make up for Vernon’s lack of investment in replacing aging equipment in the past.

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Vernon is currently eight years into what is expected to be a 10-year catch-up program, which the mayor said is already paying off.


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“We are spending less on emergency maintenance every year because we are catching up to basic maintenance and basic replacement,” Cumming said.

The budget also includes money to staff Vernon’s second fire hall in the landing area nearly 24/7 for faster response times.

During a pilot project for staffing that fire hall, Cumming said, crews had quicker response times in the western part of the city and faster response times for backup crews.


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“We ran a pilot last year,” the mayor explained. “We discovered that we got quicker access to any kind of issue on the west part of the city.

“We also got a really much better backup when we send firemen to a situation — we had much faster backup.”

After Vernon was plagued by dust advisories when the snow melted last year, the city is also planning to spend roughly $350,000 on a vacuum street sweeper in an effort to improve air quality.

“If anybody’s seen our street cleaners, there is a bit of a cloud of dust around them,” Cumming said.

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“We are hoping to eliminate that and clean the streets faster and clean them more thoroughly.”


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Exactly how the tax increase will be divided up among residential, commercial and industrial rate players won’t be decided till the new year.






Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery


Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery




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