The federal Liberal government spent a grand total of $563 on the cover of its most recent budget, a sum that pales in comparison to the tens of thousands spent last year.
Finance officials opted for a cover that featured a family of four running towards the camera, with the title Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class. The cover production apparently included two stock images, the first costing taxpayers $527 and the second just $36.
It’s unclear if the second image was a graphic in the title, for instance, or simply wasn’t used. Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the federal budget on Feb. 27, 2018.
“All related graphic design work was executed in-house,” according to documents tabled on Monday in the House of Commons in response to a written question submitted by Conservative MP Karen Vecchio.
In 2017, things were quite different. The total cost for production of that budget cover was listed in government documents at $66,008. That covered the fees for the four models featured on the cover, the photo shoots, and the rights to the resulting photographs for use on the cover, on TV and in digital ad campaigns.
After the total was revealed last fall, the government faced several days of scathing criticism from pundits accusing them of “vanity,” among other things.
A year prior, in 2016, the department spent at least $28,100 for its budget cover featuring a woman and girl holding hands. That included payment for the models, the photo shoot, and the rights to the resulting photographs for use on the cover, but not on TV or in digital campaigns.
Numbers provided by the finance department stretching back into the tenure of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, however, revealed that talent costs in the department have always been steep.
In 2014-2015, for instance, Finance Canada spent $543,100 on talent fees (which, the department noted, could have included promotional materials and advertisement campaigns beyond just the budget or its cover).