Public Values

Budget freeze will harm Canadians and compromise public services: PSAC

Expenditure restraint equals a reduction in services.

Harper is punishing workers and the public for a crisis not of their  making - John Gordon.OTTAWA, April 15, 2010: The Conservative government's 2010 budget will compromise public services and people's livelihoods, to the detriment of all Canadians. That's the message that John Gordon, President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, delivered to the House of Commons Government Operations and Estimates Committee this afternoon.

Speaking on behalf of PSAC's 170,000 members, the majority of whom work in the federal public sector, Gordon didn't mince words. He criticized the Harper government for punishing workers and the public for a crisis that is not of their making. PSAC maintains that the 2010 federal budget will do little to help Canada recover from the recession, and will likely make things worse.

Gordon took aim at the government's decision to freeze departmental operating budgets. While Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did say that he will honour the 1.5 per cent wage increase that was legislated across the federal public sector in 2009, he also announced that this will have to be taken out of departmental budgets.

"For Canadians, expenditure restraint equals a reduction in services provided by the federal government, at a time when they need them the most," said Gordon. "For federal public sector workers, expenditure restraint equates to job loss, income restraint or a combination of the two."

At this stage, the full magnitude of the impact of the 1.5 per cent cut to departmental operating budgets has yet to be seen or felt, but what has been seen is more than disquieting. For example, PSAC has been informed of the loss of 27 positions at the National Gallery of Canada. This has meant the elimination of all public education programs delivered by this national institution. Other job losses have been reported at the departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa and Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The cuts are also affecting Crown corporations. Canada Post has announced the privatization of the National Philatelic Centre in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and four customer contact centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Fredericton and Edmonton.

"While asking people to 'do more with less' may make for a good sound bite, it's unsustainable and will inevitably result in less services and poorer quality services for Canadians from coast to coast to coast," said Gordon.

Posted: April 21, 2010

  Public services

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