Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

August 11, 2005 13:04 ET

PIPSC: Institute Reacts to Announcement of 41,000 Cuts in Public Service

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 11, 2005) - The Globe and Mail's top story on August 10 and other media reports have provoked many comments and concerns from the Institute's membership and the media.

The Martin government formally announced the "Shared Services Organization" initiative in the February 2005 federal budget after months of agonizing uncertainty and rumours. The budget indicated that, based on Treasury Board estimates, there would be no more than 2,300 to 4,000 job losses. This is a far cry from the potential 41,000 cuts cited in the newspaper article. According to the article, the government plans could eliminate up to 41,000 positions through attrition rather than layoffs. It is impossible to eliminate 41,000 eliminate through attrition.

Treasury Board has been working on the "Shared Services Organization" with its customary 'secretive' approach, making sure the bargaining agents are neither involved nor informed. Needless to say that learning of an important employment change through the media is very disturbing.

This is another example of the government speaking out from both sides of its mouth. On the one hand it publicly promotes and advocates more openness, dialogue and collaboration with its employees and bargaining agent representatives through the implementation of the Public Service Modernization Act. On the other, employees and their bargaining agents learn, through the media, of significant upcoming layoffs and upheaval.

Michele Demers, President of PIPSC, having learned of the news from the Globe and Mail, said, "This is just another example of the haughty approach of our politicians and our members' employer. They tell us how great the Modernization Act is and then announce a major overhaul and job losses based on a report prepared on the sly. How can this employer claim it is fostering harmonious relationships with its employees and bargaining agents? We see this news instead as a slap in the face, and it does nothing to promote harmonious labour relations."

There are, of course, many unanswered questions. Several departments will not welcome the change and will object to the centralization of computer and information systems services across the public service for a variety of reasons, be they accessibility, security or specialization of their services.

We also challenge the examples used by Jim Alexander of the Treasury Board. Australia has not centralized its services, but has privatized them. Today, Australia can do nothing without the approval of the public sector. Let's not forget that private services are always more expensive. As for the example of Ireland, we find that this type of centralization is a first step toward privatization or the transfer of services offshore.

"Although the office of the President of the Treasury Board hurriedly toned down the news, it remains nonetheless that a report advocating the restructuring of the public service is out there, and the threat of major job losses is real. Why does the employer stubbornly refuse to consult with and involve the employees and their bargaining agents in discussions with such significant repercussions? What are they afraid of?" added President Demers.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is the largest multi-profession union in Canada, representing 50,000 professionals and scientists across the country.

Contact Information

  • Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
    Chantal Lecours
    Head of Communications
    (613) 228-6310, ext. 2229