11/25/2014 05:35 EST | Updated 01/25/2015 05:59 EST

Quebec proposes major cuts to public sector workforce

In its quest to balance the budget, the Quebec government is taking aim at the public sector workforce.

On Tuesday, Quebec Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux proposed major cuts.

“I am speaking to those who want us to clean up our own backyard first — the government’s backyard,” Coiteux said.

He proposed reducing the public sector workforce by at least 2 per cent, which would be about 1,150 jobs.

Coiteux said he has also asked ministers to look at vacant positions and to eliminate them.

He would also introduce a hiring freeze from Jan. 1, 2015 until March 31, 2016. Coiteux said that would save the province $689 million.

"We have to act on the cost of the public sector and in the cost of public sector there is 60 per cent which is basically remuneration."

Coiteux would also suspend bonuses for top managers, and demand they reign in spending on expenses and training. He said that should save another $42 million.

Cuts will affect services, union warns

Denise Boileau, vice-president of  Quebec’s public sector union, said the cuts will affect services to Quebecers.

“This cannot be anything but ideology,” Boileau said.

Coiteux’s budget-slashing measures come just days after the Robillard Commission recommended $2.3 billion in cuts to government programs.

The ultimate goal of the commission, which was announced on June 11, was to cut $3.2 billion in government expenses by next year to help balance the province's books.