September 13, 2012
Job notices go out to 1,600 federal employees
By TONY SPEARS, QMI Agency
OTTAWA -- The federal public service bloodletting continued Thursday with news that another 1,600 public servants have received affected notices and at least 500 jobs will be slashed.
This time the axe will fall at Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), where 1,500 staffers -- 1,000 in the National Capital Region alone -- received the ominous notes, public sector unions said.
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada vice-president Debi Daviau got an advance copy of the list of names.
Somewhere in the 70-page document, she found her own.
"I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach," she said.
She, at least, knew why she was then called into a massive meeting hall with hundreds of her colleagues.
"The mood was quite sombre," she said.
And staff weren't told exactly where the cuts would fall.
Secrecy has been a common complaint and not just from unions.
Last week, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page sent a letter to top civil servant Wayne Wouters noting departments have been lax in providing details about savings and reduction measures.
"Savings premised on new information technology investments, change management and reductions in staff may prove elusive and contain unforeseen costs," Page wrote.
And in a report released the same day, his office said that it "has attempted, but been unable, to identify the financial and operational impacts (of recent austerity measures) on individual organizations and programs."
It's a familiar criticism to Steve McCuaig, vice-president of the Canadian Employment and Immigration Union, which represents 590 of the affected workers.
"They're keeping a lot of the information under wraps in terms of where the exact numbers are going to be," he said.
McCuaig expects Canadians will soon wait longer for services HRSDC administers, which includes Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and social services for disadvantaged groups.
A spokeswoman for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley tweeted that the "changes "do not affect frontline services to Canadians," and that it was a "needed overhaul of the (department's) internal IT shop."
Daviau confirmed that the nearly 900 affected PIPSC members were IT workers but said the government has increasingly been providing more services online.
"When you subsequently cut a whole bunch of the IT workers who build and maintain and support those automated systems, I don't see how it can't have an impact on services to Canadians," she said.
Another 170 workers in the RCMP and the Parole Board of Canada were among those who received affected notices.