Press Release — Government spends billions to outsource work of public service professionals

OTTAWA, January 27 2020 – The federal government spent over $11.9 billion on management consultants, temporary help contractors and IT consultants between 2011 and 2018 to do the work that could have been done by Canada’s own public service professionals. The contracts ended up costing the public twice their original price.

Shockingly, spending on IT consultants more than doubled – from $605 million in 2011 to over $1.3 billion in 2018 – totalling $8.5 billion in that time period. Seven out of every ten dollars spent on outsourcing is spent on IT consultants. 

“These figures are staggering. The government is choosing to pay more for lower quality services for Canadians,” said PIPSC President, Debi Daviau. “The highest quality, most efficient and least expensive expertise already exists within the public service. Instead of relying on the best public service professionals in the world, the government is wasting Canadians’ money on overpriced contractors.”

Over the years, IT consultants have shifted from serving as a temporary replacement or offering specialized skills to delivering a large share of fundamental IT functions. Outsourcing has eroded institutional knowledge, skills and expertise from the public service.

“Enough is enough. It should be easier to hire and train public servants than to pay a shadow public service that ends up costing twice as much originally expected,” said Daviau. “It’s time for the federal government to reduce outsourcing, as promised by the Liberal government in 2015, and to increase requirements for outsourcing.”

The Phoenix pay system best illustrates how fast costs can spiral out of control when an outsourced IT project goes wrong.

“Canadians cannot afford one more failed outsourced IT project like Phoenix. Billions of dollars can be saved if we invest in public servants. Those savings can be spent on projects that will make lives better for Canadians,” added President Daviau.

PIPSC will expand its fight against outsourcing by advocating for changes to staffing in the public service, reviewing the new direction on staffing, expanding the pilots designed to expedite staffing and finding new training opportunities for its members.

“The public services we rely on every single day are at risk of cuts and privatization. Each one of us has a stake in this fight against outsourcing,” said Daviau.

The full report, The real cost of outsourcing, is available here:

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents 60,000 public service professionals across Canada. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.


For further information: Johanne Fillion, 613-228-6310, ext 4953 or 613-883-4900 (cell),