"We have concerns that eliminating jobs in the public sector will have an impact on the vital public services that the people of this province depend on every day. You simply can’t do more, with less." Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John's (19 April 2016) — The sound of a shoe dropping was what was heard by members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) as the government presented its first budget since being elected in November 2015. Despite campaign promises that public services and jobs were "safe," public service workers are seeing exactly what a Liberal promise is worth: nothing.
While the details of the budget are still unknown, there are many things that are clear. The government identified ways and areas to "further reduce expenditures, including government and departmental reorganization, efficiencies through major program review and redesign, consolidation of functions within the public sector and partnerships with the non-profit and private sector.”
Thousands of jobs targeted
The government plans to cut 450 full-time equivalencies in agencies, boards and commissions and 200 in core government positions. With bumping, possible part-time positions, and other factors included, this could impact over 1,000 people.
The government expects to see a reduction of 1,400 positions over 5 years through retirements and resignations. While attrition is different than direct layoffs, the outcome is the same. Once someone leaves a position, it will not be filled.
These job losses will have a direct impact on the public services available but also on the remaining employees who will now take on more work, with less resources.
"We have concerns that eliminating jobs in the public sector will have an impact on the vital public services that the people of this province depend on every day. You simply can’t do more, with less," said Jerry Earle, NAPE President, in an online letter to members. "Given the size of the province and the demographics, a strong public service is required to deliver top quality services and programs in this province — services and programs that help stimulate the province's economy and ensure a healthier, fairer, and more equitable society."
Privatization not mentioned but glimpses appear
While further privatization projects were not specifically announced in the budget, there are concerns that the reference to "partnerships with the non-profit and private sector" could be a warning sign.
"As many of our members are painfully aware, this agenda has been in place for some time," said Earle. "From food services, to healthcare security, group homes, our highways, and Adult Basic Education at the College of the North Atlantic, the impact of privatization is all too real.
Public-private partnerships (P3s) involve commercial contracts between public authorities (provincial or local) and private businesses in the design, construction, financing and operation of public infrastructure and services that have traditionally been delivered and maintained by the public sector, such as highways, hospitals or schools.
NAPE/NUPGE to fight for public services and public service workers
"Public-private partnerships have fundamentally been about giving private investors and financiers high returns with low risks, at the long-term expense of taxpayers and the public," Earle continued. "NAPE/NUPGE will continue to stand up for high quality public services and the workers who provide top quality public services to the people of this province. We will ensure that the government sees the folly of the P3 model or ensure that they pay the political price."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE