Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
June 05, 2008 18:56 ET
It's the Beginning of the End for Federal Science: Expert Panel on Lab Transfers
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 5, 2008) - The Report of the Independent Expert Panel (IPE) on the Transfer of Federal Non-Regulatory Laboratories released today raises major concerns, stated the union representing federal scientists, researchers and regulators.
While the report identifies 5 labs for "inter-sectoral partnerships", it does not rule out a long term strategy to transfer or privatize other regulatory or non-regulatory laboratories, affecting 25,000 federal science and technology workers.
"The Report opens the door to the privatization of federal science. This, as the report stated, could affect 25,000 federal S&T workers. This could well be the biggest federal downsizing exercise since the massive layoffs of the 1990s," said Michele Demers, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. "Yet, nowhere in the report is there a plan to address the federal S&T workforce. Just what does the government intend to do with its employees?"
The Professional Institute is also concerned that the public interest has not been fully taken into account. The government will effectively abdicate its responsibilities to Canadian citizens and play second fiddle to the private sector and to academia in by leaving it to them to determine what constitutes the public interest.
Canadians will not be fooled by these new management models. Canadians expect sound science based on the public interest. Citizens are still suffering from the consequences of privatizing the Walkerton drinking water testing laboratory. Why risk going down that path again?," added Ms. Demers.
The Report calls for the alternative management arrangements to be in place in one year's time. It also suggests that procurement rules need not be followed in setting up the new partnership arrangements in light of the time, energy and costs associated with accountability. "This is abhorrent", concluded Michele Demers. "The Conservative government campaigned on accountability and is now ready to set aside the rules to suit its private sector agenda".
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is a national union representing 55,000 professionals and scientists across Canada. In November 2007, the Institute leadership met with the Expert Panel to discuss the lab transfers.