The Conservative government is putting another $20 million into advertising its programs, including $12 million to advertise its push to develop and export Canadian resources, according to budget documents tabled in the House of Commons today.

The supplementary estimates update the first set of spending estimates, which were tabled before the March 21 federal budget.

The estimates show the government plans to spend an additional $20 million on advertising:

  • $12 million to Natural Resources for "responsible resource development" advertising, the government's term for its work to develop and export Canadian resources.
  • $5 million to Health Canada to advertise a campaign called "Protecting the health and safety of Canadians."
  • $2.5 million to Human Resources and Skills Development to advertise "better jobs (skills initiatives)."
  • $500,000 to Canadian Heritage for "history and heritage."

The opposition has criticized the government in the past for its spending on advertising, referring to it as propaganda, at a time when the public service is shedding jobs to deal with the deficit.

The government has defended the spending as necessary to inform Canadians about the federal budget.

A spokesman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement, the minister responsible for the department that publishes the estimates, described the document as supporting "the government's request for Parliament's approval on expenditures."

MPs and senators will vote on the estimates, as they do on the budget, but, under a majority government, the estimates are almost certain to be approved.

The $12 million requested by Natural Resources is "a new request for spending authority for an advertising item being led by NRCan," Clement's spokesman said in an email.

A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver couldn't immediately answer questions about the advertising cash.