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Canada’s Clement Calls for ‘Transformative’ Change to Cut Costs

Tony Clement, head of Canada’s Treasury Board and minister responsible for the country’s civil service, told a group of government executives they should seek “transformative” change of the bureaucracy to reduce costs, including considering the introduction of user fees.

Clement, who is leading efforts to find C$4 billion ($4 billion) in annual savings, said the government spending review will focus on grants, capital investments and payments to state-owned businesses in addition to wages and salaries.

“This is the first time in 15 years that government has conducted a review of this scope,” Clement said at a conference in Ottawa organized by the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada, or APEX. Departments should develop a “full range of options” in “administrative and program efficiencies, business consolidation and user fees,” he said.

The review is central to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to erase the federal government’s deficit by 2014. The government aims to shave off 5 percent of the government’s C$80 billion in annual discretionary spending.

Clement said some of the changes may require legislative changes.

“This is not just a cost-cutting exercise,” Clement said. “This is an exciting chance to bring about transformative change in the way we serve Canadians.”

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