Law firm and crisis management consultant paid over $125,000 by N.L. government

In July alone, the Newfoundland and Labrador government paid over $27,000 for services already being done in-house. 

St. John's (25 August 2016) — Records released to the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) show that the provincial government paid out over $27,000 to McInnes Cooper law firm and Cathy Dornan, a crisis communications consultant, for the month of July.

This brings the total for services rendered thus far to: $129,789

N.L. government chose to pay $350 per hour on crisis communications instead of negotiating with workers

The government hired the services of McInnes Cooper, a law firm that specializes in labour law, and of Cathy Dornan, a crisis management and communications specialist with strong ties to the Liberal party, to deal with public sector negotiations. The contract means the province is spending $350 or more per hour on the upcoming set of public sector negotiations. This amount is on top of what they are spending on their current staff who normally handles negotiations and communications. 

The ATIPP request filed by NAPE/NUPGE shows that the government paid $27,911.36 to McInnes Cooper and Ms. Dornan for services rendered for the month of July. This amount includes $20,125.00 for the services of Ms. Dornan alone. While the government severed its ties with Ms. Dornan at the end of June, after public outcry when the details of her lucrative deal with government surfaced, NAPE/NUPGE believes this amount is for the previous month’s work performed by Ms. Dornan.

Outside legal and communications services cost more in 3 months than average worker makes in 12

“In three months, during a time when people were being laid off, services being cut, and offices closed, this government paid Ms. Dornan approximately $60,000,” said NAPE President Jerry Earle. “This is a colossal waste of money that, frankly, doesn’t pass the sniff test. To put it into perspective, this is about $7,000 more than the average working person makes in this province in a year and almost three times what a minimum wage earner makes a year.”

Information released in separate ATIPP requests earlier this week showed that Ms. Dornan was duplicating work that is normally done by the in-house communications staff on matters unrelated to public sector bargaining.

Contractors billing for services already being done by government staff

“NAPE/NUPGE and the people of the province were told that Ms. Dornan was taken on contract with McInnes Cooper to provide advice on communications regarding collective bargaining — that was bad enough. Now we find out that Ms. Dornan was writing tweets for government and doing presentations for the Minister of Finance for groups like chartered accountants. All the while billing taxpayers about $19,000 a month,” said Earle.

“NAPE/NUPGE will continue to file access requests so the people of the province can know how their tax dollars are being wasted in this fashion. The people of the province deserve to know how much this government is spending to line the pockets of their friends to take on their own workers and the unions that represent them."

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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