It seems the Prime Minister's office (PMO) isn't full of a bunch of 'fat cats' after all.
The Liberals, likely in an attempt to embarrass the government, recently tabled an order paper question in Parliament asking about PMO staffing levels and costs.
We now have the results.
As of Feb. 1, 2012, the number of full-time employees in the PMO was 94, with only 21 of them making $100,000 or more a year.
23 of them make an annual salary of $50,000 or less.
As Kelly McParland of the National Post notes, that's about the average salary of an elementary school teacher.
"Considering the hours demanded by the PMO, and the intensity of the job, a case could be made that the Conservatives are seriously exploiting the willingness of people to put in endless hours at mediocre pay," he wrote.
And while the cost of the PMO did soar 30 per cent between 2007-08 and 2009-10, to $9.89-million, Harper's officials stress the office didn't escape the government's austerity measures.
The latest numbers (which haven't been officially released) show overall spending in the office has decreased 22 per cent since 2009-10 to around $7.7-million in 2011-12.
"The number of full-time employees has decreased from 105 in 2009 to 87 today, while total spending by ministers' offices is also down 18 per cent since 2009-10," Carl Vallee, Harper's press secretary, told PostMedia News.
For the Liberals, this was a swing and a miss.
About the PMO:
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is a central agency that came into its own in the late 1960s. It differs from its counterparts in that it is staffed with temporary political appointees rather than full-time, career civil servants and has no statutory base.
One of its main functions is to advise the Prime Minister on appointments to positions such as the governor general and lieutenant governors, senators, supreme court justices, chairpersons of ministerial boards, and heads of Crown corporations.
The PMO also includes schedulers, speech writers, and policy strategists who advise the prime minister and act as a link with the political party organization.