N.S. mass shooting inquiry breaks down how it spent $25.6M so far

The joint federal and provincial inquiry examining the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia has released its cost breakdown to date, the first time it has offered insight into how it has spent $25.6 million over the past year and a half. 

The highest proportion of the expenses — about 42 per cent — went toward salaries and benefits for the Mass Casualty Commission’s staff of 68 people. This also encompasses the per diems of the three commissioners. 

The people working for the commission range from lawyers, investigators, policy and research officers to the communications team, mental health specialists and community liaisons. 

Renting the venues for the public proceedings and the services associated with putting them on accounted for a quarter of the costs, about $7 million.

That covers security, catering and the costs associated with making the hearings available to the public: live streaming, translation, transcription services, as well as interpretation. The commission said copy editing, managing documents and subject area advice also falls into this category. 

Commission counsel Anna Mancini questions retired RCMP Staff. Sgt. Steve Halliday, right, as he provides testimony about the RCMP’s command post, operational communications centre and command decisions at the Mass Casualty Commission inquiry on May 17. Commissioners Leanne Fitch, Michael MacDonald, chair, and Kim Stanton, left to right, look on. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Nearly three-quarters of the 62 individuals and groups participating in the inquiry have received contributions toward their legal costs to the tune of about $2.5 million total. The orders-in-council setting out the terms of the inquiry state that funding be provided to participants who would not otherwise be able to take part. 

The commission said it has spent about $1.8 million on meeting rooms and office space, which is paid for until November of this year. Another approximately $1.8 million has gone toward preparing reports, the inquiry’s website, printing and designs costs. 

The commission has covered $1.6 million in travel expenses for staff, commissioners and participants. That includes covering the cost of internet and cellphones for them. 

Earlier this month, CBC News reported the costs had climbed past $20 million, but at that point, information on the federal government’s portion of the shared costs was not yet available. Before public hearings started in February, the Nova Scotia government and Ottawa said they spent a combined $13 million. 

On Friday afternoon, the commission posted its updated expenditures that show how much was spent at the end of the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2022. 

The costs are shared between the federal and provincial governments. Both levels of government signed orders setting out the commission’s work in October 2020. A final report is due in November of this year. 

Twenty-two people died on April 18 and 19, 2020. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (CBC)
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