Two BC government institutions were nominated for tongue-in-cheek awards for wasting taxpayer money.
The City of Vancouver was nominated for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s annual Teddy Awards for spending more than $300,000 on new officer furniture during the pandemic while Mayor Kennedy Stewart publicly asked higher levels of government for more money, saying the City was facing a COVID-19-related cash crunch.
The purchase was part of pre-planned renovations at City Hall, and much of the furniture was designer. Some Herman Miller chairs the City ordered cost $1,500 each according to the CTF, which called the incident a “dubious shopping spree.”
TransLink also received a nomination for using COVID-19 relief money to reimburse executives for pandemic pay cuts.
In the spring of 2020, TransLink announced its executives would take a 10% pay cut. According to the CTF, that’s a significant amount because the CEO alone makes $448,000 per year.
But the CTF filed Freedom of Information requests about the process, and found out the transit authority quietly used COVID-19 emergency aid money to reverse the pay cuts.
According to the CTF, $263,861 went to bringing executives’ salaries back to normal.
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The CTF’s Teddy awards are named after Ted Weatherill, who in 1999 resigned from his federally appointed position for submitting dubious expenses. One of them was a $700 lunch for two.
Every year, the organization delivers a pig figurine named Teddy to the award winners.
The awards were held this week, and the BC nominees lost out to players the CTF deemed even bigger money-wasters.
Former governor general Julie Payette was given the federal Teddy award for spending more than $1 million on her swearing-in ceremony and renovations to the governor general’s residence. An investigation into her management style cost another $393,000 as well.
The provincial Teddy award went to the government of Quebec for its fumbled attempts to buy a ferry to shuttle people across the St. Lawrence River. Quebec paid $175 million for the first ship that needed so many repairs it couldn’t operate. It spent another $2 million on a second ship, but that crashed twice and broke. A third ship cost $45 million, and the CTF said that one has hit a dock twice now too.
Toronto got a nod for money wasted on its bike lanes. The city spent about $250,000 installing lanes and then taking them out again.
The Teddy’s lifetime achievement award this year went to the federal government’s Phoenix Pay System, which has been responsible for countless headaches as federal government employees got paid incorrect amounts.