The Parliamentary Budget Officer hasn’t received enough information to do a full analysis, but he says it seems like government services are being cut to eliminate the deficit.
The report is based on a fraction of the information Page sought from about 80 departments, but the projected savings they provided paints a very different picture of the nature of the cuts from what many expected when the budget was unveiled in March. “There are significant reductions that could have potential service level impacts,” said Page. “Minister Flaherty indicated when the budget was tabled that the majority of reductions relate to back office operations in government (and) they don’t relate to service delivery… The information provided by departments indicate only a small proportion of restraint relates to internal service reductions… to the extent there was a surprise, that was it.”
About 85 per cent of the savings appear to come from programs for Canadians and the cost of operating them, which places the reductions closer to the front-line than the government originally suggested. The big cuts are in programs in the areas of international, immigration and defence at $1.7 billion; social programs at $784 million, general government services at $716 million, and security and public safety at $688 million.
The PBO’s full report is here.