Ottawa cutting back

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a photo opportunity to mark National Flag of Canada Day with astronaut Dave Williams (not pictured) in Harper's Langevin Block office in Ottawa February 15, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie


OTTAWA -- Canada's soldiers, prison guards, and cops are getting less.

Senators are getting a little bit more.

Foreign aid is getting the axe, and so are federal infrastructure programs.

There's plenty of cash for the provinces and employment insurance.

And the CBC gets its usual billion-dollar-a-year handout.
The federal government outlined its spending plan Monday for the fiscal year that begins on April 1. All told, the feds will spend $252 billion next year, just slightly less -- about 2.5% -- than the government will spend in the current fiscal year that ends in March.

But while a couple of departments are getting more, those at the heart of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's law-and-order agenda are seeing billions slashed.

The Department of National Defence, for example, will have to get by on $2.7 billion less next year. That's a 13% cut.

But it's worse for the Canada Border Services Agency, the group that includes customs guards and others who protect the border. Its budget has been slashed by 17.5%, or $357 million.

At Correctional Services Canada, the department that runs prisons, there is $427 million less next year, a cut of 14.2%.

The RCMP, too, is being asked to tighten its belt with a cut of $58 million, or 2.1%.

Those numbers, mind you, could change when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tables his 2013 budget at the end of March.

But if the government's current spending plan sticks, the big winners next year include the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada -- the folks who cut EI cheques, provide skills training and pay for social housing -- which gets an extra $2.9 billion.

The provinces, despite complaining about the federal government, will also get extra from the federal treasury to the tune of $2.5 billion, an increase of 2.9%.

The Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Space Agency also came out ahead with an extra $277 million and $125 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, the CBC will have to make do with $1.06 billion this year, which is $41.6 million, or 3.8%, less than it was given last year. To put that in perspective, the combined budgets for the five major regional economic development agencies the feds run add up to precisely $1.06 billion.

And the Senate? It was unable to tighten its belt, apparently, and will see its budget goosed 0.3% next year to $92.5 million.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons found $34 million worth of fat to cut, enough to trim its budget by 7.4%.


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