National Newswatch

New U.S. moon-landing timetable throws Canada’s Lunar Gateway role into question

Apr 28 2019 — Dean Beeby — The Trump administration has thrown a monkey wrench into Canada’s vaunted commitment to build a Canadarm3 for a space station orbiting the moon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Feb. 28 that Canada was joining the NASA-led project known as the Lunar Gateway, by providing an advanced robotic arm to maintain the station remotely, even when […]

Canada Revenue Agency writes off $133 million owed by one taxpayer

Apr 22 2019 — Dean Beeby — As the April 30 deadline approaches for filing income tax returns, there’s word of an unusually large tax writeoff by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Sometime in the first six months of 2018, the agency wrote off more than $133 million in taxes owed by one taxpayer. It’s not clear whether the recipient of the […]

PBO launches new service to cost out party platforms, despite the political risks

Apr 18 2019 — Dean Beeby — The next federal election isn’t happening until October but one federal institution is starting its election countdown in June — with a novel experiment in democracy that’s fraught with political risks. The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) will suspend its normal functions on June 23 to take on a new, temporary task: costing out election platforms […]

Fixing federal payroll IT system could almost double its cost, says memo

Mar 24 2019 — Dean Beeby — Another federal payroll system needs an overhaul after it was put together quickly and on the cheap – and the repair is expected to cost almost as much as the system itself. The system, which converts paper documents into electronic versions, is used to store payroll information needed for the dysfunctional Phoenix program at the […]

Another costly federal IT glitch gets resolved – ten years later

Mar 14 2019 — Dean Beeby — A computer glitch dating back to 2009 has been fixed at last, allowing the federal government to resume chasing down thousands of Canadians who owe the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) about $66 million due to erroneous overpayments. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) reinstated the collection of these old debts last November, going after 15,000 […]

Federal agency looking at fitness trackers for public sector workers

Mar 12 2019 — Dean Beeby — A little-known research group inside the prime minister’s own department has been looking at whether public servants should be offered electronic fitness-tracking devices to help reduce their health insurance premiums. Wearable fitness trackers, such as smartwatches, also could be used to reward fitness-conscious employees through loyalty points programs, such as the travel points program offered […]

Border agency breaches privacy of refugee claimant

Feb 3 2019 — Dean Beeby — Canada’s border agency breached a refugee claimant’s privacy when personal information that was encrypted on a USB key disappeared — with the password written on a Post-it note left wrapped around the device. The USB key and the note have never been found and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) failed to report the incident, […]

The Liberal government wants to pin more medals on bureaucrats

Jan 20 2019 — Dean Beeby — The Liberal government wants to see more medals pinned on the chests of public servants, and so has established a kind of quota system to make sure they’re nominated more frequently. Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council and Canada’s top public servant, has pressed all federal departments to submit the names of at least […]

Money in the bank: Ottawa looks for new ways to tax dormant accounts

Jan 13 2019 — Dean Beeby — Millions of dollars owed to ordinary Canadians sits unclaimed in dormant bank accounts and terminated pension plans — and the federal Department of Finance is looking at fresh ways to tax some of that idle money and to reduce or eliminate any interest paid on it. Proposals to significantly revamp the so-called “unclaimed balances” regime […]

Audit finds flimsy accounting for travel, booze at Canadian UN mission

Jan 6 2019 — Dean Beeby — Canada’s diplomatic office at a UN agency in Montreal has been badly managed for years — and even managed to lose track of its alcohol and silverware. “[T]he current method used to track alcohol consumed during hospitality events was not sufficiently reliable,” says a newly released audit of the Canadian mission to the International Civil […]

Federal agency racks up big expenses after scientists reject web meetings

Dec 7 2018 — Dean Beeby — A federal agency that funds medical science is racking up large travel and hospitality bills after Canadian researchers snubbed a plan to replace face-to-face meetings with cheaper “virtual” online conversations. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has been spending an average of $2,600 a day on meals and refreshments this year alone, even as […]

Ottawa warns of dangerously exhausted train crews as Alberta ramps up oil-by-rail

Dec 2 2018 — Dean Beeby — An internal Transport Canada document warns of the safety risks posted by exhausted crew members on trains, even as Alberta pursues a plan to ratchet up already-booming shipments of oil-by-rail. Federal work rules in the rail industry, dating from 2002, “are not effective in preventing fatigue due to work schedules and do not adequately mitigate […]

Rogue tax workers snooping on Canadians in larger numbers

Nov 26 2018 — Dean Beeby — Workers at the Canada Revenue Agency continue to snoop on the confidential tax files of spouses, parents, friends, neighbours, colleagues, church members and businesses, despite a $10-million project meant to discourage them. Ten months of internal reports obtained by CBC News show the files of at least 10,000 Canadians were compromised by the agency’s employees, […]