Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

May 17, 2012 13:45 ET

Cuts to Science and Safety: Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Coast Guard Hit by Second Round in Six Months

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 17, 2012) - Over 130 Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) employees represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) began receiving Work Force Adjustment (WFA) notices earlier today as part of the implementation of federal budget cuts. They join some 200 scientists and other professionals at DFO who were told that their positions were being affected in December 2011. The notices to PIPSC members are part of a larger wave of more than 1,000 WFA notices received by DFO and Coast Guard employees today.

This latest round of cuts to the Department will affect positions for Biologists, Chemists and Researchers, Policy Advisors, IT Specialists and Commerce and Purchasing Officers in communities across the country: British Columbia (18), Manitoba (27), the National Capital Region (16), Ontario (14), Québec (25), New Brunswick (5), Newfoundland (10) and Nova Scotia (19).

"These cuts are not "back office" cuts. They are yet another blow to the federal government's capacity to use science to protect Canadians, their environment and our economic interests", said PIPSC President Gary Corbett. "The government is eliminating programs that have generated world-renowned studies of freshwater ecosystems as well as impacting work to monitor Arctic contaminants, dioxins and other pollutants."

This latest announcement is not the first hit for one of the federal government's key science-based departments. Most recently, cuts reduced fish stock monitoring and aquatic habitat management. Combined with the complete overhaul of the Fisheries Act buried in the omnibus Budget Implementation Bill (C-38), experts believe that these decisions will introduce unprecedented levels of risk to the quality and sustainability of key elements of Canadians' environment and impact on our future prosperity.

One example of the very real impact on Canadians of the government's most recent decision regarding DFO is the withdrawal of support for research conducted as part of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program. A region of remote lakes has been dedicated, since the late 1960's, to whole-lake ecosystem research. It has been the site of groundbreaking studies into the effects of pollutants, acid rain, freshwater aquaculture, and hydroelectric dams on freshwater ecosystems. The ELA is also where researchers track how Canada's freshwater ecosystems respond to climate change.

More than 30 affected positions are part of the Canadian Coast Guard, an institution that is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Environment Minister Kent recently justified his own department's cuts to its Environmental Emergency response capacity by pointing to the more important role of agencies such as the Coast Guard.

"Canadians should be concerned to see the apparent lack of planning behind these cuts," added Corbett. "The same scenario where Ministers point the finger at each other is playing out between DFO and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and in many other cases. At the end of the day, Canadians will pay the price for ill-considered decisions that ignore current science and eliminate important evidence for the future."

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents some 60,000 professionals and scientists across Canada's public sector. It is a founding member of Professionals Serving Canadians (PSC), a coalition of six concerned public service unions who believe that the Harper government's plan to slash programs and services across the government will have serious repercussions on the well-being of Canadians, their families, and their communities.

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Contact Information

  • Pierre Villon
    (613) 228-6310 extension 2228
    (613) 794-9369 (cell)