Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Defence Staff to Be Redeployed to Save Up to $1.2B a Year: Nicholson

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Defence Staff to Be Redeployed to Save Up to $1.2B a Year: Nicholson

Article excerpt

Staff changes coming at National Defence

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OTTAWA - As many as 4,800 military and civilian staff at the Department of National Defence could find themselves doing other work, training for new positions or perhaps even out of a job over the next four or five years.

It's part of a so-called defence renewal strategy unveiled Monday by the Harper government.

The plan could save as much as $1.2 billion a year by 2017-18, but the savings will be plowed back into the department to maintain readiness, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told a media briefing.

"The intent here is not to reduce the number of regular force, reserve force or civilian employees," Nicholson said.

Rather, the goal is to rebalance the workforce and move administrative staff towards non-administrative positions at military bases across the country.

But while the plan is not meant to reduce the number of staff, senior defence officials at a technical background briefing said there could be some "individual" job losses among those who can't retrain or move.

Those officials also took pains to emphasize that the new plan is separate from the budget-cutting exercises of strategic review and the deficit reduction action plan, both of which saw the department eliminate jobs.

Those two activities combined are expected to chop $2.1 billion a year out of the $19-billion defence appropriation by the time all of the measures are fully implemented in 2014.

The Union of National Defence Employees heaped scorn on the claim that the plan was not about cutting jobs.

"We were given the same verbal assurances today as we have been given countless times in the past that this is not an exercise in reduction," said Mark Miller, a vice-president with the union, which represents 17,000 defence employees.

"However, recent history has made us pay close attention to whatever it is we're being told."

As part of its budget-cutting process, the federal government has issued notices to 1,700 federal defence workers that their jobs will be eliminated, according to union figures. …

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