Canadian Manufacturing

Budget fallout continues with 5,500 civil workers given notice

Hundreds of policy analysts among those told their jobs are on the block as the Conservatives seek to slash spending by $5.2 billion over the next three years.

OTTAWA—A second round of major cuts to the public sector is slicing off the hands that serve the public and the heads that serve the federal government.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada said more than 5,500 civil servants have been given notice.

Hundreds of policy analysts were among those told that their jobs are on the block as the Conservatives seek to slash spending by $5.2 billion over the next three years.

The tension between the political and policy branches of government has been palpable since the Conservatives were elected in 2006, with perhaps the highest-profile case being the resignation of Canada’s chief statistician over the decision to cancel the long-form census.

“What we’ve seen over the past little while is a change in what’s expected of advisers,” said Claude Danik, executive director of policy for the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, which represents more than 13,000 economists and social scientists who advise the government on public policy.

“In the past they wanted advice that was independent. We don’t feel that’s still what is being asked. It depends on the department but they’re often told to find information that will support particular positions.”

A spokesperson for Treasury Board President Tony Clement said since the cuts only eliminate four per cent of the public service over the next three years, there will still be plenty of advice and support to go around.

According to PSAC, unionized employees in 23 federal departments received notice, with 1,137 staff at the Canadian Border Services Agency notified their position could be on the hit list, and 689 such positions at Agriculture Canada.

The number of notifications doesn’t represent the number of actual jobs that could be cut, union officials explained.

The system requires all employees who do a particular job to be notified no matter how many of their positions are being eliminated.

Geographically, Ottawa bore the biggest brunt with 2,224 workers put on notice, according to the union.

Among the analysts told Wednesday that they’ll be affected by the job cuts are those who work at Foreign Affairs, Treasury Board, and Health Canada.

Almost all federal departments were told last month to slash their budgets by five per cent or more, meaning few will be immune from job cuts.

Others notified include workers at the Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Some 308 employees are being let go from the food inspection agency, the union said.

Altogether, about 19,200 jobs will be lost over the next three years following last month’s budget.

Some workers could be reassigned, while others will be given the option of leaving early; about 7,000 of the job cuts reported in the budget will be due to attrition, the government said.

A budget freeze in 2010 saw 9,700 positions lost and there are still 6,300 jobs that will be cut as a result of the 2007-2010 spending reviews, the union said.

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