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Federal public service: Justin Trudeau is behind the biggest staff increases since 1984

Montreal, January 25, 2024 – Justin Trudeau has increased the size of the federal public service more than any other Canadian Prime Minister since 1984, concludes a study published this morning by the Montreal Economic Institute.

“Since the Trudeau government came to power, there has been an unprecedented expansion in the size of the bureaucracy,” deplores Gabriel Giguère, public policy analyst at the MEI and author of the study. “The government seems to have lost control of government growth.”

The latest figures from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat state that as of March 31st, the federal government comprised 357,247 public servants.

This represents a 37.9 per cent increase, i.e., a rise of almost 100,000 employees over the size of government when the first Trudeau budget was tabled in March of 2016.

Canada now has nine federal employees for every 1,000 inhabitants, a number 25.3 per cent higher than it was eight years ago.

Labour costs, meanwhile, have risen by 53.2 per cent since this government took office, according to the latest figures from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“Given such a large increase in the size of government, one might expect Canadians to see a significant difference in the quantity and quality of federal services, but this has not materialized,” says Giguère. “The growth in the federal workforce under the Trudeau government has broken with the restraint that characterized the governments of the previous 40 years.”

The author notes that across their individual mandates the Mulroney, Chrétien, and Harper governments all recorded reductions in the number of federal public servants per 1,000 inhabitants.

A ranking of the prime ministers since 1984 according to the change in the number of civil servants per 1000 inhabitants is as follows:

  1. Brian Mulroney, –10.2 per cent
  2. Jean Chrétien, –9.7 per cent
  3. Stephen Harper, –6.3 per cent
  4. Paul Martin, –1.0 per cent
  5. Justin Trudeau, +25.3 per cent

The MEI study is available here.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policymakers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.

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Célia Pinto Moreira
Public Policy Analyst
Cell.: 514 703-0502

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