Government ad spending on economy balloons under Conservatives since recession

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - +An examination by The Canadian Press reveals federal advertising budgets geared to promoting economic success have ballooned under the Conservatives since the 2008 global downturn.

Average annual ad spending by the Finance department jumped 58 per cent in the four years following the recession, compared to the five years that preceded it.

Spending by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada was up 72 per cent, on average, while advertising by the Canada Revenue Agency almost tripled.

In the past two years, multi-million-dollar ad campaigns have also been launched by Natural Resources Canada to promote resource development — all under the Conservative "Economic Action Plan" banner.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly called the economy his government's top priority, and a spokesman says the increased ad spending reflects efforts to help Canadians access economic programs such as tax cuts and skills training.

But NDP critic Mathieu Ravignat, who requested the latest spending data from Parliament, says the Harper government is more interested in selling rosy messages than actually helping Canadians in a struggling economy.