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Budget Pruning Leaves Canadian Potted Plants Out To Dry

Plants for auction on <a href="">GCSurplus</a>, the Canadian Government's site for the sale of surplus goods. Plants from the House of Commons may soon join them.
Courtesy of Public Works And Government Services Canada
Plants for auction on GCSurplus, the Canadian Government's site for the sale of surplus goods. Plants from the House of Commons may soon join them.

In Canada, even the ficus trees haven't been spared the budget cut hatchet.

The potted plants in Canada's House of Commons buildings, the CBC reports, will soon be rounded up and auctioned off as part of federal belt-tightening measures.

The department of Public Works And Government Services Canada (PWGSC) has long paid the cost of watering and maintaining potted plants kept in government buildings. But money doesn't grow on trees and the era of free watering is over.

As part of a 2012 update to a workplace modernization effort, the department has informed other federal departments that they have until April 2015 to decide their plants' fate: keep them and pay a fee to the Public Works department for their upkeep, take over any existing maintenance contracts from the department or get rid of the plants entirely.

The House of Commons — and, as the Ottawa Citizen has reported, the Department of National Defence — picked the third option, which means the plants are headed for the auction block (well, actually, the government's surplus goods website, GCSurplus. You can find photos of the available plants there, which run the gamut from small, leafy palms to the philadendrons that may have adorned your college dorm room).

A House of Commons internal memo explains that the "removal of the plants by PWGSC personnel, escorted by House of Commons employees, will begin following the successful sale of the plants." And, the memo continues, "Since the plants are Crown assets, employees are not permitted to keep them."

That didn't stop staff in the offices of the opposition New Democratic Party from trying. The CBC reports that employees ferreted away some refugee plants in an empty office. But no dice — the plants have bar codes that will aid in their identification and removal.

Employees need not worry about any of their own cacti and good luck bamboo that may be brightening their cubicles — personally owned plants are not part of the sweep.

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April Fehling
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