Ottawa – The Canada School of the Public Service is hiding an internal audit of its language training program that could show its decision to lay-off 190 language teachers is a bad economic move. Treasury Board President Tony Clement, the Minister responsible, should place the School’s plans on hold until it can be determined if the lay-offs are justified, according to the teacher’s union.

The School promised Parliament in its 2011/12 Report on Plans and Priorities that it “will perform an audit of language training”, but has never disclosed the findings of the audit. Currently, the School is planning to abandon the delivery of language training within the federal government completely to the private sector.

“We suspect that audit has been withheld because it would show the current language training services the School provides as being the most cost efficient and the highest quality way of delivering the service,” said Bob Kingston, President of the Agriculture Union – PSAC, which represents the teachers.

The union has written to Minister Clement urging him to withdraw the School’s plans and release the audit so it can be determined if the lay-offs are justified.

“It is our view that language training provided by the School is the most cost effective way of delivering the service, and the available evidence supports this view,” Kingston said.

According to a report published in the Ottawa Citizen, language-training expenses have jumped nearly fivefold at the Treasury Board Secretariat in the last five years, from $428,490 to $2.1 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year, and the average language training cost per employee at Treasury Board doubled during the same period.

Coincidentally, government departments were encouraged to purchase training from private sector suppliers and not the Canada School of the Public Service during this period.

The “shared service” model is widely recognized within government as a cost effective way of providing services that all government departments and organizations need. The government credits this approach for significant savings in the delivery of Information Technology and Payroll services.

“The government could and should use the sharing principle when it comes to language training because it will save money and provide the best service,” Kingston said.

At the end of the day, the School might be saving a few dollars, but they are most likely sticking Canadian taxpayers with a much larger bill. These layoffs will drive up the cost of language training while also reducing the quality of teaching.

“This decision is fiscally irresponsible and we think the audit will prove it. Canadians should be outraged,” Kingston said.