Ontario Saves over $25 Million on Travel, Meals and Hospitality
Lowest spending on travel, meals and hospitality in a decade demonstrates a smart approach to respecting taxpayer dollars
TORONTO — The Ontario government continues to deliver on its commitment to create a culture that respects taxpayer dollars and spends smarter by saving over $25 million on travel, meals and hospitality, ensuring that government spending is directed to core programs and services.
As a result of the restrictions put in place by the Ontario government in June 2018 — which included non-essential travel and expenses such as meals — spending on travel, meals and hospitality has declined to its lowest level in a decade. Year-over-year highlights from 2017-18 to 2018-19 include reduced spending on accommodations by $9 million and air travel by $7 million, as well as reduced spending on hospitality by $1 million.
"Our government is committed to building a smarter government that manages taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. "Families know the importance of managing expenses when you're on a tight household budget and government should apply that same discipline to its own spending."
Other smarter spending as a result of the restrictions include:
- Saving over $77,000 since mid-2018 by cancelling catering for Cabinet and committee meetings.
- Saving approximately $40,000 within a single program area by using video conferencing rather than attending frequent meetings in-person.
- Cutting catering costs during lock-up on Budget Day in half, by ending the practice of elaborate, catered lunches for attendees and instead providing a pizza lunch.
Today Bethlenfalvy also announced that the government has updated its rules around travel, meal and hospitality expenses to enhance oversight and accountability and modernize practices. Changes include:
- Ensuring the best price by specifying "lowest fare available" for air and rail travel, rather than "economy" or "coach."
- Providing more cost-effective options for road travel.
- Encouraging savings by asking people to consider accommodations outside of pricier downtown areas.
- Updating and modernizing the rules by accepting e-receipts or scanned receipts instead of requiring printed receipts.
These restrictions on travel, meals and hospitality, along with the updated rules, align with the building smarter government plan recently announced by Minister Bethlenfalvy. Together, these large-scale transformative projects, called Smart Initiatives, will streamline and improve services, fix inefficiencies, spend smarter and improve how government operates.
"Our government has been clear since day one that we are committed to managing taxpayer dollars more efficiently and effectively," said Bethlenfalvy. "This is a great example of how we are taking simple steps to reign in discretionary spending, so we can reinvest it in critical front-line programs and services like health care and education."
- The government has updated its rules around travel, meal and hospitality expenses to continue to promote a culture of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.
- There are three sets of rules:
- The Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive applies to employees and appointees in ministries, provincial agencies and two hydro organizations (the Independent Electricity System Operator and Ontario Power Generation Inc.), as well as consultants and contractors to ministries and provincial agencies.
- The Allowable Expense Rules apply to cabinet ministers, opposition leaders, parliamentary assistants, and their respective staff.
- The Broader Public Sector (BPS) Expenses Directive applies to designated BPS organizations as set out in the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010.
- Updates to the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive will come into effect on January 1, 2020.