Federal government might axe 1,600 jobs
London Community News
By Kenyon Wallace
The federal government has given notice to about 1,500 employees at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and another 149 who work for the RCMP that their jobs might be on the chopping block.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the unions representing the workers, say government notices were sent out Thursday morning warning that more than 1,500 positions could soon be cut.
That means Canadians could be waiting even longer to obtain new passports, Employment Insurance payments or child care benefits as departments scramble to fulfill requests with reduced staff, the unions warn.
Most of the affected HRSDC employees work in the Ottawa area across several divisions, including those that support the administration of Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Other affected workers include seven medical adjudicators — nurses who determine Canada Pension Plan applicants’ eligibility for disability benefits.
The affected RCMP employees work in several departments across the country, including recruiting, forensic labs and records.
“This is another sad day for our members, and a troubling day for Canadians across the country,” said PSAC vice-president Chris Aylward in a statement. “Hundreds more workers and their families are being handed an uncertain future, and Canadians across the country will inevitably be affected by service cuts.”
Robin Kers, a labour relations officer with the Union of Solicitor General Employees, which represents the 149 RCMP employees, said the elimination of about a dozen forensic lab workers raises questions about whether the needs and interests of the police force can be served.
“There’s already a view that the existing labs are under-resourced and incapable of responding to the needs of the justice system,” he said.
PSAC says more than 18,000 of its members have received “workforce adjustment” notices since the governing Conservatives took aim at the public service in March’s 2012 budget. The feds are aiming to cut spending by $5.2 billion annually, partly by reducing the civil service sector by approximately 19,000 positions over the next three years through job cuts and retirements. This comes at a time when Canada’s unemployment rate hovers around 7.3 per cent.
Debi Daviau, vice-president of PIPSC, said Canadians may end up waiting twice as long for their passports or several hours at the airport when they return from overseas due to cuts to the public service. Most of the effected members in her union work in information technology.
“If you get rid of hundreds of IT workers who are responsible for development and maintenance . . . how exactly how could it not impact negatively on services to Canadians?” she said. “HRSDC’s line is that it won’t impact people. But they haven’t substantiated that in any way, shape or form. From my perspective it can’t do anything but to affect the level of service.”
She added that she fears the job cuts, if and when they come, will result in work done traditionally by civil servants being outsourced to the private sector.
With Thursday’s “workforce adjustment” notices, more than 5,000 employees at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada — about 22 per cent of the department’s workforce — have learned they could lose their jobs.
- Torstar News Service