Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Up to 68,000 Jobs to Vanish under Federal Public Service Spending Cuts: Report: Ottawa Restraint Could Slash 68,000 Jobs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Up to 68,000 Jobs to Vanish under Federal Public Service Spending Cuts: Report: Ottawa Restraint Could Slash 68,000 Jobs

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - Federal government spending cuts could chop between 60,000 and 68,000 jobs from the public service in the next few years, a report from a progressive think-tank estimates.

The conclusion stems from a review of three separate rounds of restraint since 2007, and it suggests once completed in 2015, the federal public service could be trimmed to the lowest staffing levels since 2000.

Already, about 6,300 salaried positions are in the process of being eliminated as a result of department reviews launched between 2007 and 2010, designed to save $1.8 billion.

But that is the "tip of the iceberg," says the report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The major impact on jobs will derive from the $2-billion departmental spending freeze announced in 2010, which is only now being put into effect, and the $4-billion Strategic and Operating Review that will be part of the coming budget.

In total, the three waves of cost cutting are intended to yield the government $7.8 billion in annual savings upon completion in 2014-15.

Government ministers have yet to reveal how they will apportion the cuts, but have conceded jobs will be lost through attrition and likely also layoffs.

Report author David Macdonald, a senior economist with the Ottawa-based think-tank, said he does not expect all savings will come from jobs and salaries inside the public service, although the majority will. Consulting firms, maintenance companies, non-profits who depend on Ottawa funding, may be impacted as well.

"But no matter how the cuts take shape, the job losses will be significant," said Macdonald.

"One of the main issues is transparency. There is no government detailing of where the jobs are being cut, or why they are being cut."

Parliamentary budgetary officer Kevin Page said the 6,300 figure in the first wave coincides with his calculation, but his office has not yet done an estimate of future job losses.

"This is something we will look at in our Budget 2012 analysis," he said in an email.

In a paper issued earlier this month, Page concluded the Harper government was well on its way to meeting its cost-cutting objectives.

Overall, government spending during the first six months of the current fiscal year fell by three per cent to $123 billion. …

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