The Government of Canada spends nearly $840,000 a year on TV sets for daytime viewing by employees, according to spending records tabled in the Commons.
New televisions, the majority high-definition sets, cost taxpayers $6.69 million over the past eight years, documents show.
“We wanted to see how money is being spent,” said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, who asked for the data. “The government is telling everybody the cupboard is bare, yet we see enormous amounts of spending within the bureaucracy that never seems to make it to front-line services.”
“You have to ask, why is there money to blow on TVs?” said Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay, Ont.; “What kind of value are Canadians getting for their money?”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation spent more on televisions than any other department or Crown agency, totaling $2.5 million over the period from 2006 to 2013-14.
Other enthusiasts for daytime TV included the Canada Revenue Agency, with $439,000 on new sets, followed by Canada Lands Company Ltd., the federal agency that owns Toronto’s CN Tower ($327,000); and the Department of Justice ($326,000).
The Department of Industry did not bill taxpayers for a single TV set over the eight fiscal years. Other leading agencies that do not watch television at work are Statistics Canada and the Standards Council of Canada.
Angus, a four-term MP, said he asked that his own government-issue TV be taken from his office months ago.
“I actually asked that the TV be removed,” said Angus. “In nine years of having it in my office I never turned it on. Never used it.”