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An Economic Action plan sign is pictured in Mississippi Mills, Ont., on August 23, 2010. Ad spending had been on a three-year decline after reaching a peak of $136.3-million in 2009-10 when the government ran a large number of ads to promote stimulus spending under the slogan “Economic Action Plan.”Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Conservative government spending on advertising has grown to $75-million, according to an annual report that was quietly posted online Thursday.

The report on government-wide advertising for the 2013-14 fiscal year comes more than a year after that period ended.

Public Works released the report several weeks later than last year. Officials insist it takes between 12 and 16 months to produce the report.

The report was released on a day when the Conservative government came under fire in Question Period over leaked plans to spend $7.5-million in May on ads to promote the 2015 budget, scheduled for April 21.

The annual report shows federal departments spent a combined $75.2-million on ads in 2013-14, a 9-per-cent increase over the $69-million spent the prior year.

Ad spending had been on a three-year decline after reaching a peak of $136.3-million in 2009-10 when the government ran a large number of ads to promote stimulus spending under the slogan "Economic Action Plan."

Even though the government's stimulus spending was largely limited to a two-year window, the slogan lived on as the government adopted it to describe its general approach to the economy.

The report shows that Ottawa spent $10.5-million on Economic Action Plan ads in 2013-14 and a further $11.3-million on "Better Jobs" ads, which are similar.

Other campaigns included $7.6-million on promoting the government's wireless telecommunications policy, $5.7-million spent by the Canada Revenue Agency promoting tax breaks, $5.2-million by Natural Resources on "responsible resource development," $4.3-million on an anti-cyberbullying campaign and $3.9-million on ads related to Remembrance Day.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair criticized the government's plans to spend a further $7.5-million on budget ads, arguing the spots have the effect of promoting Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party.

"That's contempt for the taxpayers," he said Thursday.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement said Thursday that advertising is needed to inform Canadians about tax changes.

"We always [have] an obligation to convey changes in government policy, particularly budgetary changes, and so this is no different from any other year," he said.

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