POLITICS

Public Service Union Launch Campaign To Criticize Tory Cuts

07/14/2015 11:59 EDT | Updated 07/14/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - The Public Service Alliance of Canada is dropping $2.7 million on a pre-election ad campaign that takes aim at Conservative cuts to the bureaucracy.

The union said its "Vote to Stop the Cuts" campaign will include billboards, posters, radio segments and targeted online content, but it does not plan to air TV ads.

"In Canada, essential public services are being threatened by these reckless cuts without regard for the safety and welfare of millions of Canadians citizens," said national executive vice-president Chris Aylward.

PSAC said government support for veterans, search and rescue, employment insurance, border security and food safety have been affected by the Tory belt-tightening efforts since Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in 2006.

"We obviously believe it is in the public interest to raise awareness about the impact of cuts to public services," Aylward said.

The union, which represents more than 170,000 public sector employees, is the latest group to capitalize on the lack of rules governing pre-writ advertising.

Groups such as the conservative Working Canadians, left-leaning Engage Canada and the now defunct HarperPAC have rolled out ads ahead of the official election campaign start, when Elections Canada rules kick in and sharply restrict third-party advertising.

"Once the election is called, of course we have to stop advertising as a registered third-party advertiser," Aylward said.

PSAC said members signalled they supported an awareness campaign at a national union convention this spring.

In response to the campaign, Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement issued a statement Tuesday to highlight savings.

"Since budget 2010, our government has implemented savings measures that have saved the taxpayer more than $19 billion in 2015-16 and beyond," Clement said. "Furthermore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that overall performance results of departments and agencies has improved."

Clement's office said the government has moved to reduce travel expenses through the use of technology such as teleconferencing.

It also said it has slashed duplication across departments by combining adminsitrative functions such as human resources to reduce the burden for taxpayers.