Budget cuts hit thousands of civil servants

Tue May 1, 2012 2:44pm EDT
 

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - More than 8,000 Canadian federal government workers will receive notice this week that they may lose their jobs due to budget cuts, including about 2,300 employees at Statistics Canada, unions said on Monday.

The Conservative government announced in its March 29 budget that it would cut operational spending across all government departments and agencies by 6.9 percent, eliminating 19,200 public service jobs, or about 5 percent of total federal employment, as it seeks to balance its budget by 2015-16.

"We're astounded by how quickly and mercilessly this government is moving to put people out of work and cut the services Canadians across the country rely on," said John Gordon, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Since the budget, more than 18,000 letters have been sent to employees in dozens of departments.

The notices do not necessarily mean each employee will be laid off but that their position is "affected". The notices trigger a complex process outlined in the collective agreements whereby management must try to shuffle some workers to new positions, or offer retraining or early retirement.

Nobody knows exactly how many of those affected will end up out of work. The process could take several weeks or even months.

Union leaders say the secrecy surrounding the cuts and the difficulty obtaining details from the government is damaging on its own.

"Make no mistake about it, this will hurt the economy," Gordon said.   Continued...

 
A sign reading "Jobs, Growth, and Prosperity" is seen as Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaks at a news conference in Toronto, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch