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March Madness & Expenditure Management


March Madness & Expenditure Management

Treasury Board Secretariat

  • On February 13, 2019, the Ministers of Treasury Board Secretariat and Finance issued a government directive entitled "Curbing March Madness", instructing ministries to contain year end spending, especially as it relates to the freeze on unnecessary discretionary spending.
  • Enforced by a special Treasury Board minute, re-enforced through Cabinet, ministries were directed not to enter into any new funding commitments and limit spending to commitments under contract, legislation and/or requirements to fulfil core services up to March 31, 2019.
  • As a result of these and other measures, spending in February and March combined was $153 million less than originally forecasted.
  • These savings were generated in a number of expense areas, such as:

Transportation and Communication

  • Limiting travel, accommodation and meal expenses for employees on government business, including employee relocation costs, to the established allowance in the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive, unless required by health and safety
  • Taxi, TTC and parking costs
  • Communication costs such as telephone costs, mobile device charges, radio communications, as well as mailing, courier and freight charges
  • The largest reduction in expenses occurred in communication costs, followed by government staff travel. This is in alignment with the direction from the Secretary of Cabinet to freeze discretionary spending and restrict all out of province travel except in very limited circumstances and with prior approval from the President of Treasury Board.


  • External consulting and professional services for specialized information technology consulting and management services
  • Media advertising placed on TV, radio, print as well as costs related to planning, design, printing and production of other communication products for special public and media initiatives
  • Media subscriptions through the cancellation of all paper-based media subscriptions (magazines, newspapers, etc.)
  • Rental, lease and repair costs for buildings, office space, office related machines and equipment
  • Beverages and meals through removing the provision of food or beverages for staff meetings or events (for example, at internal staff-only working meetings)
  • Hospitality/events and gatherings by deeming the very limited instances of alcohol at events impermissible. There are no exceptions granted, including for diplomatic meetings.
  • The largest reduction is seen in external consulting services, media advertising and other communication products.

Freeze on Discretionary Spending

  • Discretionary spending includes, but is not limited to, any expense that can be placed on hold without putting government service delivery or the public at risk (for example, matters of health, safety and security).

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