Public Values

Nuclear safety threatened by cost cuts

Safe operation, adequate oversight worth more than possible savings of $7 million.

The Chalk River nuclear facility needs funding and safety oversight, not cost-cuttingNews Release

OTTAWA, June 15, 2009 — The federal government's obsession with "fiscal responsibility" is threatening the regulatory oversight and licensing of Canada's nuclear industry and facilities, as the Strategic Review process sets its sights on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the federal agency responsible for regulating Canada's nuclear industry.

Members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents CNSC staff, are disturbed by the political expediency and ideology that continue to take precedence over good judgment in the government's decision-making processes.

The Strategic Review's "cut at all costs" approach disregards the Commission's own analysis of its future staffing needs and operational requirements, which it presented to the government earlier this year. At a time when the CNSC must actively recruit more staff in order to successfully manage the increasing demand for its services, most notably in the areas of industry licencing and regulatory oversight, the government has directed it to find seven million dollars ($7 000,000) in savings, which represents five percent (5%) of the CNSC budget.

Gary Corbett, A/President of the Institute, commented: "The safety of Canadians must always take precedence over budgetary considerations, particularly in an industry where cost-cutting can have long-term consequences for the staff who work in nuclear facilities and for the citizens who depend on them to ensure their utmost safety".

The Strategic Review process has already severely and dangerously compromised the federal public service's capacity to continue serving Canadians.

"We have already seen its effects on the activities of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The government should have learned from its mistakes. It makes absolutely no sense to increase the risk to the public by trying to save seven million dollars at the CNSC", added Corbett. "There needs to be a serious commitment on the government's part to ensuring the safe operation and adequate oversight of these facilities".

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents 57,000 engineers, scientists and other professionals across Canada's public sector, including 520 at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Over 600 PIPSC members also work at the Chalk River and Whiteshell nuclear facilities.

Links and sources
  What is the safety of Canada's nuclear facilities worth?, by PIPSC, June 15 2009

Posted: June 15, 2009

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