Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Spend $4 Million on Media Training, Coaching Services for Civil Servants

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Spend $4 Million on Media Training, Coaching Services for Civil Servants

Article excerpt

Feds spend $4 million to coach civil servants

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OTTAWA - The federal government spent just over $4 million on outside coaching services for non-partisan public servants in the year since the Liberals came to power.

That includes money for media training by external consultants -- even though government departments and agencies have dedicated spokespeople -- and other coaching services meant to help bureaucrats develop leadership skills, resolve workplace conflicts, manage stress and even get ready for promotions to other jobs within government.

The details are contained in a response to an order paper question submitted by Conservative MP Jamie Schmale.

The figures cover the period from Nov. 4, 2015 -- when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers were sworn in -- to mid-October this year.

Departments say they hired external media consultants to help senior officials and subject matter experts learn how to communicate clearly with the public.

Ian McLeod, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said in an email that the $54,127 spent on media coaching was about making good on a promise to "make subject matter experts more available to media."

McLeod said hiring external consultants to do the training meant the media relations staff within the department "could focus more directly on service delivery."

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the department looks for outside help when the expertise they need -- including media training, psychological services, professional coaching and support for skill development -- is not available in-house.

"These sorts of training initiatives are not new," Johnson wrote in an email Tuesday.

"Such measures are a long-standing practice and help to support employee development and wellness," he said.

David Barnabe, a spokesman for Finance Canada, provided a breakdown of the department's personal and media coaching expenses over the past five years. It shows that this year's figures -- $31,777 for personal coaching and $3,113 for media coaching -- were comparable to or much lower than in previous years. …

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