Opinion

Editorial: Ministers don’t need paid social media staff

Postmedia Network 

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It’s really not that hard to issue a handful of social media posts. Every single day, millions of Canadians manage to pull it off. They post on Face­book, they post on Twitter, they post on Instagram and other platforms.

Businesses and institutions do it too — bringing news about products, events and more to their client base.

It’s not rocket science.

This is why we’re having trouble picking our jaws up off the floor following the news that a Twitter account created for the federal minister of health is costing taxpayers over $100,000 per year to run.

The account was set up in the summer, first used by then health minister Jane Philpott and now by the current minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

But they’re not the ones who typically use it. Oh no. It’s apparently much too difficult for that. Instead the task is divided up between what’s been described as the equivalent of 1.5 employees.

The taxpayer expenses for this include overtime work that’s so far cost $6,500, according to access to information documents sourced by the CBC.

Given all of this, you’d think this would be the greatest social media account in the country with the largest number of followers. Far from it.

The English version of the account has so far issued 254 posts.

They include posts like Taylor’s Jan. 17 missive that: “Keeping our kids active in winter promotes health and happiness throughout the season, but we also need to make sure that their #WinterFun is #WinterSafe.” Min. Petitpas Taylor @CDNMinHealth

That post was retweeted by a whopping three other accounts, one of which was another official Liberal page.

It’s no surprise that these rather bland postings didn’t get much play. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has four million follows, this health account only has 3,000 followers.

Spending money on this account is unacceptable. Any responsible politician or senior public servant would immediately kibosh a ridiculous expense such as this.

Yes, a politician should think twice before they post.

But they don’t need dedicated staff literally working overtime to produce their dull tweets that are sent out to the few Canadians who follow them.

They or their communications staff should be doing this as part of their regular duties. This practice needs to be deleted from all departments.