BUSINESS

Canada Civil Service Cuts: First Round Of Layoff Notices Goes Out To Defence, Regional Aid Workers

04/04/2012 12:08 EDT
CP

Less than a week after the federal government tabled a budget announcing $5.2 billion in cuts and 19,200 job reductions, the first layoff notices are rolling out to public servants around the country.

More than 400 federal employees received “work force adjustment” letters on Wednesday, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) announced.

Among the departments targeted in the first round of cuts are National Defence and the Public Service Commission, as well as a number of regional aid agencies: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and Western Economic Diversification.

“While it is far too early to assess the full impact of these cuts on services to Canadians, we can already see that regions and communities that face economic hardship are not being spared,” PIPSC President Gary Corbett said in a statement. “Regional economic development agencies are a perfect example of good government jobs generating even more jobs where they are most needed.”

The job cuts are just the first of many to come. According to John MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees, defence alone is expected to be hit with 1,000 civilian job cuts by 2015.

MacLennan told iPolitics.ca that Quebec will be hit particularly hard by the cuts, with one-third of them expected to take place in that province.

The news comes on the heels of a study that found the pain of government job cuts won’t be limited to government workers. According to the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), the federal government’s $5.2-billion budget reduction will cost more than 40,000 private-sector jobs around the country.

Using a Statistics Canada economic model employed by the federal government itself, CAPE found the cuts will have a knock-on effect that will kill more than 8,000 retail and wholesale jobs, nearly 3,000 food service jobs, close to 2,000 administrative jobs and 1,500 workers in the construction industry.

Here’s a breakdown of the private-sector losses by region, according to CAPE.

Ontario: 18,199 private sector job losses

Quebec: 9,314 private sector job losses

Western Canada: 4,886 private sector job losses

Atlantic Canada: 4,286 private sector job losses

British Columbia: 4,009 private sector job losses

As The Huffington Post reported Wednesday, public service unions warn the federal cuts will disproportionately affect young people, because of the practice of letting go contract workers and temporary workers before permanent employees.

But some dispute this notion, saying departments will cut jobs according to merit, not seniority.

The public service is instituting a “swap” policy that will allow some workers targeted for termination to “swap” positions with other employees who may be nearing retirement and who may welcome a severance package. But the swap is available only to employees of similar pay grades and job descriptions.

The uncertainty surrounding where job cuts will fall prompted Canada’s largest public sector union, PSAC, to call on the government for a detailed explanation of “exactly what services are going to be cut – where, when and how.”

The union argued the government is hiding the true size of the reductions, because its estimate of 19,200 job cuts doesn’t include temporary workers, those who will lose their jobs through an earlier “program review,” and the jobs never created due to a hiring freeze instituted in 2010.

“Has this government thought through the impact on small and medium sized businesses who count those 34,000 public service workers as clients?” asked Larry Rousseau, PSAC executive vice-president for the National Capital Region, in a statement. “There seems to be no accounting for what this means to smaller economies or the Canadian economy as a whole.”

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