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Political Points: How much does it cost to lay off a public servant?

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has been battling to get details of the federal government’s spending cuts.


Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we're watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail's team of political reporters.

CIDA isn't just for the private sector

International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino will kick off a multi-day global health meeting in Ottawa this morning by touting Canada's contributions to maternal and child health in the developing world.

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The minister has attracted attention and some scrutiny in recent weeks over CIDA's plan to develop more links with the private sector, and today's speech is an opportunity for him to showcase another aspect of Canadian foreign aid. The federal government's Muskoka Initiative, announced in 2010, funds projects aimed at improving health and reducing mortality for mothers and children.

The meeting, organized by federally-funded Grand Challenges Canada, will feature major research aimed at tackling health problems in some of the world's poorest countries. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Canadian International Development Agency are also co-hosting the event. - by Kim Mackrael in Ottawa

Iran, Canada's not done with you yet

Canada stunned the diplomatic world in September by abruptly cutting ties with Iran. At the time, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the country the "most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."

Three months later, Mr. Baird, who is on his way to Morocco this week to discuss the situation in Syria, is hosting a media teleconference this morning to make an announcement about Iran. Yesterday, he issued a statement for Human Rights Day condemning North Korea and Iran. He said Canada will take a leadership position at the United Nations "in condemning the human rights situation in Iran."

How much does it cost to lay off a public servant?

Kevin Page, the federal budget watchdog, will release a substantive report into one of the federal government's biggest costs: staff.

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Spending on public service personnel was $43.8-billion in 2011-12 -up from $32.9-billion in 2006-07. On Tuesday morning the Parliamentary Budget Office will release a report titled "The Fiscal Impact of Federal Personnel Expenses: Trends and Developments."

The report is expected to produce an estimate for the average cost of a federal public servant and analyze how the staff reductions announced in the Conservative government's 2012 budget will affect plans to erase the annual deficit.

The report is also expected to look at staffing trends in a historical context, to see how they compare to the private sector over the past two decades.

Last month federal Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced that 10,980 public service jobs have been eliminated since the March budget, which promised to erase 19,200 jobs over three years, primarily through attrition.

The PBO has argued the government should be releasing more detailed information that would show exactly where the job cuts are taking place. - by Bill Curry in Ottawa

"Santa Claus playing the steel drums in a festive speedo"

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And on a lighter note, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the satirical CBC news show, airs its holiday special with a bevvy of political guests. They've already released a few clips and, well, they're pretty great. Watch premiers Dalton McGuinty suggest Ontario will combine the Santa Claus Parade, Caribana and the Pride Parade to cut costs  and Alison Redford talk about having a scotch with the oil and gas industry.

Apparently NDP MPs Pierre-Luc Dusseault and Pat Martin, plus Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, will be recreating Home Alone. But we just really, really hope they don't act out Mr. McGuinty's suggestion.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More


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