The federal government’s recorded losses of public revenue, money, and property reached a five-year high last year, hitting $534.2-million, with the most notable year-over-year spike seen in lost or stolen public property, as detailed in the 2023 Public Accounts. But while the value of public property losses in 2022-23 more than tripled and public money losses more than doubled compared to the 2021-22 fiscal year, losses in federal revenue were down by more than half. Tabled in the House of Commons by Treasury Board President Anita Anand (Oakville, Ont.) on Oct. 24, the latest Public Accounts detail the federal spending and losses between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023. Losses in revenue, money, and property are outlined in the third volume of the accounts. Starting with the good news: total lost federal revenue dropped from $39.7-million in 2021-22 to $14.3-million in the most recent fiscal year—the lowest level on the books for the last five years, and a sharp decline from the five-year high of $110.4-million in such losses recorded in 2018-29. In 2022-23, fraudulent refunds or evasion of the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax accounted for the steepest loss in revenue, with roughly $8.3-million lost through 46 cases settled by the courts, and another three cases totalling $1.5-million currently before the courts. Income tax evasion or fraud, meanwhile, accounted for a little more than $4.4-million in lost revenue, with eight cases totalling $2-million settled in court, and another 13 cases totalling $2.4-million still awaiting judgment. Lost public money—a category that includes things like petty theft, and fraudulent use of travel cards or claims—reached a total of $283.3-million in 2022-23, more than double the $124.9-million recorded the year prior and the highest level going back to 2018-19. That $283.3-million loss in the 2023 Public Accounts—of which $156.6-million isn’t expected to be recovered—involves 65,175 cases of lost public money due to an offence, illegal act, or accident. More than half of all cases reported for the year related to fraudulent Employment Insurance benefit claims reported by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), with 44,902 such cases valued at $95.8-million, of which only $145,373 isn’t expected to be recovered (and $25.1-million already has been). In 2021-22, the department reported 23,295 such cases totalling $43.5-million. Asked about the increase, ESDC media relations noted that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, “organized fraud attacks against public sector institutions have increased exponentially (in volume, complexity, and scope).” The department has “several fraud detection programs” in place, and the jump in losses of money “demonstrates the prioritization of resources toward key integrity activities in the wake of the pandemic,” reads the emailed response. A key contributor to the boost in public money losses in 2022-23 was a single case of an unfulfilled contract by a vendor reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada and valued at $150-million, none of which is expected to be recovered. That case involved a $150-million non-refundable advance payment made to Medicago—one of a number of advance purchase agreements set up with manufacturers in “order to secure early access to safe and effective vaccines for everyone eligible to be vaccinated” against COVID-19 in Canada, explained Chris Aoun, press secretary to Health Minister Mark Holland (Ajax, Ont.), in an email to The Hill Times. MPs on the House Health Committee will probe this loss following a push by Conservative committee members. “COVID-19 vaccine advance purchase agreements were required to secure COVID-19 vaccine doses for Canadians in an environment of global competition. These were novel vaccines and companies needed advance funding for research, development, and clinical trials,” he said. Aoun added that Medicago “met all the terms for the payment,” that “the contract was terminated by mutual consent,” and that the contract has been “made available to all parties through the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.” Lost public property—by accident or illegal act—totalled $236.6-million, more than triple the total of $62.5-million reported in 2021-22. Within that, 2,934 cases involved theft or vandalism of property valued at a little more than $2-million, and there were 14,453 cases of accidental loss or damage valued at $234.6-million in 2022-23. While the associated value soared, the overall number of cases involving public property dropped from 18,747 in 2021-22 to 17,400. Looking across the different categories, the largest jump in associated costs relates to vandalism and damage to federal buildings and other real property. A total of 2,021 such cases, altogether valued at almost $206-million, is up from 863 cases totalling $48.9-million in 2021-22. Of the 2,021 cases reported in 2022-23, 1,535 involved vandalism and 487 involved accidental damage. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), as is typical, reported the most cases of vandalism at 943. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) swapped places with Parks Canada to top the list in terms of dollars attached in 2022-23, with 190 cases of vandalism or accidental damage (188 fell under the latter category) to buildings or other real property valued at a total of $186.6-million. In terms of cases, the CSC once again reported the highest number at 950 cases, up from the 505 cases reported in 2021-22; the associated dollars, however, dropped from $255,708 to just $22,217 for 2022-23. Parks Canada ranked second in terms of both case numbers and dollars attached, with 591 cases valued at $16.1-million (almost all of which is attributable to 36 cases of accidental damage) listed in the 2023 Public Accounts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, visits the Stanley Bridge wharf in Prince Edward Island, which was damaged during Hurricane Fiona, on Sept. 27, 2022. PMO photograph by Adam Scotti According to the DFO, roughly $184.1-million of the total $186.6-million in public property losses related to buildings and other real property were a “result of damages from Hurricane Fiona to small craft harbours in Newfoundland and Labrador, Maritimes, Gulf, and Québec regions.” The 2023 Public Accounts also include one case of accidental damage or loss due to a fire on a ferry vessel reported by the Department of Transport and valued at $5.1-million, related to the July 22, 2022, fire on the MV Holiday Island ferry. The vessel was built in the 1970s and operated in the Northumberland Strait between Caribou, N.S., and Wood Islands, P.E.I., before being decommissioned and disposed of. The fire, which broke out as the ferry neared Wood Islands, forced the evacuation of about 230 passengers. “The ferry suffered significant damage as a result of the onboard fire. Since the vessel was already near the end of its serviceable life, and considering the potential costs and time needed to repair it, Transport Canada declared the vessel a total loss,” explained a departmental communications adviser by email, noting the ferry has since been disposed of “in an environmentally conscious manner.” For its part, CSC media relations said property damage reported in 2022-23 included damage to “inmate cells and institutional infrastructure including doors, windows, alarms, sprinklers, beds, graffiti, etc. The single costliest item reported is a cell fire that caused damage estimated at $9,000.” The second-most costly category for lost public property in 2022-23 was theft and vandalism or loss and damages to Crown vehicles and other transport, with 1,529 such cases overall valued at roughly $20.6-million. Of that, 220 cases totalling a little more than $1-million involved theft or vandalism, and 1,309 cases totalling $19.6-million involved accidental loss or damage. In 2021-22, there were 1,494 cases overall of lost public property involving Crown vehicles and other transport, valued at roughly $5.5-million. The RCMP reported the most overall cases involving Crown vehicles and other transport in 2022-23 at 1,067 overall, of which 81 involved theft or vandalism (costing $271,506) and 986 involved accidental damage or loss (costing $3.7-million). However, DFO had the highest associated cost, with 49 total cases valued at a combined total of $14,315,873. The vast majority of that cost—almost $14.2-million—was attached to the 33 cases of accidental loss or damage. That’s a stark jump from 2021-22, when the DFO reported 38 such cases overall, valued at $135,934. “The increase in cases of lost/damaged Crown vehicles and other transport is primarily attributable to replace a helicopter that was damaged in an accident near Puvirnituq, Que.,” reads an emailed response from DFO media relations. The helicopter in question was damaged in a September 2022 crash near Puvirnituq’s airport; the pilot was the sole passenger on board and did not suffer any serious injuries, according to a CBC report. firstname.lastname@example.org The Hill Times Lost revenue, money, and property, 2018-2023 Category2018-192019-202020-212021-222022-23Lost revenue$110,433,862$36,967,723$37,451,486$39,722,059$14,294,254Lost public money $186,455,970$168,909,719$179,356,721$124,891,850$283,315,776Lost public property $24,187,131$36,237,061$109,258,795$62,498,051$236,572,447Total$321,076,963$242,114,503$326,067,002$227,111,960$534,182,477—Source: Public Accounts of Canada Public property losses, 2018-2023 Fiscal yearTotal # Stolen/VandalizedTotal $ Stolen/VandalizedTotal # Lost/DamagedTotal $ Lost/DamagedOverall Total #Overall Total $2018-191,635$12,059,23211,126$12,127,89912,761$24,187,1312019-203,616$1,623,76814,951$34,613,29318,567$36,237,0612020-215,018$3,341,9509,146$105,916,84514,164$109,258,7952021-223,627$3,545,42914,847$58,952,62218,474$62,498,0512022-232,934$2,026,08814,453$234,546,35917,400$236,572,447—Source: Public Accounts of Canada Public property losses in 2022-23, by category Category# Stolen/Vandalized$ Stolen/Vandalized# Lost/Damaged$ Lost/DamagedOverall Total #Overall Total $Materials, tools, supplies100$98,4901,798$247,0541,898$345,544Crown vehicles & other transport220$1,014,4951,309$19,609,4831,529$20,623,978Computers, tablets, laptops171$239,437738$879,623909$1,119,060Cellphones76$62,6951,135$761,8801,211$824,575Other telecommunications, informatics, electronic equipment65$61,6151,580$1,131,5931,645$1,193,208Machinery, equipment, furniture, furnishings708$179,1152,816$612,8763,524$791,991Access card or security badge17$2831,505$27,2041,522$27,487Buildings or real property*1,536$354,803487$210,955,5162,023$211,310,319Weapons and accessories4$4,369251$21,218255$25,587Uniforms16$8,55613$2,65829$11,214Combat outfits**21$2,2302,821$297,2542,842$299,484TOTAL2,934$2,026,08814,453$234,546,35917,400$236,572,447—Source: 2023 Public Accounts.* One case of accidental loss or damage due to a fire on a ferry vessel, reported by the Department of Transport and valued at $5,113,761, was included in this category** In addition to 2,794 cases of accidental loss, destruction, or damage to combat uniforms valued at $234,590, the Department of National Defence reported 27 such cases related to military kits, which are valued at $62,664 and have been included in this category.