Feds Love to Shred

Posted by Ray Barry

Canada has apparently accumulated too much paper.

The federal government spent approximately $12 million more on hiring companies that offer services like document shredding and storage in the last fiscal year than it did ten years ago, according to an analysis of Public Accounts documents.

During the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the Health and Transport departments spent about $389,247 on two separate contracts with companies that are in the business of destroying and storing physical and digital documents. By 2013-2014, when the Harper government was enjoying its third term in government, that number had increased to nearly $3 million.

But it was the following year that the government went all out. Public Accounts documents for the 2014-2015 fiscal year show the federal government spent nearly $13 million on similar contracts. By that time, many more departments were utilizing these services — including the Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development, and the Justice department.

This past fiscal year — during which Canada underwent a change of government — saw a slight decrease in spending, to just under $12.4 million.

The Public Accounts documents only list expenditures by company name. Among the companies the federal government has hired to deal with its mountains of paper are Shred-It, Mobilshred, Iron Mountain and Securit Records Management, which Iron Mountain acquired in 2014.

The documents also do not list any companies to which a department paid less than $100,000 for a single service — so it could be the government has spent even more on such services than the Public Accounts disclose.

The biggest spender in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, by a long shot, was the Canada Revenue Agency, which spent a whopping $8.4 million on contracts with Mobilshred and Shred-It. The year prior, it dished out approximately $10.3 million — which is largely responsible for the sudden spike in document spending by the government that year.

The CBC reported back in May that the agency — which at the time had the largest amount of paper records out of all the federal departments and agencies — had actually been “stubbornly holding on to”its “warehouses of paper files” instead of shredding them, like federal policy requires.

The runners-up for document expenditures in 2015-2016 were the Health and Justice departments, which spent just over a million each.

The Alberta government experienced a “shred-gate” in early January 2016. The privacy and public interest commissioners found that the outgoing Progressive Conservative government improperly destroyed nearly 350 boxes of shredded documents.