OTTAWA - The federal government has nixed a Treasury Board proposal to take a yearly survey of civil servants after balking at the $1-million price tag.

An official at Statistics Canada, which would have conducted the survey on the behalf of the Treasury Board, broke the news to colleagues last month in an email obtained by The Canadian Press.

"I regret to inform you that plans for the 2010 Public Service Employee Survey are cancelled," Geoff Bowlby, head of the agency's labour statistics division, wrote on June 2.

"We received notice from Treasury Board secretariat yesterday evening that funding for the project was not approved for this year.

"Please cancel any work that you may have already initiated on this project."

The government already solicits voluntary feedback from its workers through a survey every three years to improve programs and services. It has revealed thousands of claims of harassment inside the public service.

The next survey is scheduled for 2011. A spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Stockwell Day said that survey will still go ahead at a cost of around $1.2 million. But it will happen only every three years.

"Decision was made not to proceed with this survey on an annual basis which would have cost taxpayers over a million dollars per year," Melisa Leclerc said in an email.

The civil-service survey gives a snapshot of workers' demographics, skills, career expectations and concerns.

Statistics Canada conducts the survey and compiles the results. The first survey was done in 1999; the most recent was in 2008.

Government workers have filled out the survey online for the last six years. Workers without Internet access get paper copies.

About 258,000 workers received the last survey. About 170,000, or about two-thirds, filled it out.

The last survey turned up thousands of claims of harassment and discrimination.

More than 27,000 workers, or 16 per cent of respondents, claimed they had been harassed once or twice in the last two years. And 20,000 workers, or 12 per cent, claimed they had been harassed more than twice.

Co-workers and bosses were mostly blamed.

Another 30,000 workers, or 18 per cent of respondents, alleged discrimination, mostly based on gender, age and ethnicity.

The Tories are already under fire for getting rid of the mandatory long-form census.

The head of Statistics Canada quit last week after Industry Minister Tony Clement claimed the agency supported replacing the long-form census with a voluntary survey. It did not.

Clement has since clarified that the decision to scrap the census was made by the federal cabinet alone.

Many groups oppose that decision.They say data will be less accurate if the survey is voluntary instead of mandatory because fewer people will fill it out.