What will re-elected Campbell government do with proposal to radically dismantle public services?
Victoria (14 May 2009) - Now that B.C.'s Liberal government has been re-elected, public employees will be watching closely to see whether Premier Gordon Campbell moves to implement a planning document that calls for a radical reduction in the provincial public service.
Just before the May 12 election, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) drew attention to a planning document - obtained by Public Eye Online - outlining a program to reduce the public service by up to 57% over the next 10 years.
The plans include a $75 million "transformation fund" to achieve that goal, BCGEU notes.
Specifically, the document states:
"Given demographic projections that the B.C. Public Service will be 30% to 57% smaller within the next 10 years, we need to plan to deliver services with a shrinking labour force, which makes transformation of services and modernizing our work processes essential.
"To that end, a Public Service Transformation Fund for 2009/10 and 2010/11 has been established with approvals resting with the Deputy Ministers' Committee on the Public Service (DMCPS). The fund will be used for transformation opportunities where the approach to work can be re-tooled to deliver quality services to citizens with fewer staff."
"The B.C. Liberals' plan to shrink the public service is based on the false assumption that labour markets can't keep up with demand," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker.
"Instead of focusing on recruitment and retention, in part by tapping into the million skilled immigrants who've applied to come to Canada, the Campbell administration would focus on making the public service unattractive to new Canadians and recent graduates by shrinking the public service to less than half its present size," Walker notes.
"It seems clear that the B.C. Liberal government's claim to limit layoffs to 5% in the short term is only the first step in a larger strategy to dismantle public services. British Columbians deserve an answer from Gordon Campbell on what his real plans are for public services in B.C."
Blueprint for privatization?
While the planning document does talk about bringing some limited services back into the public arena, it is overwhelmingly focused on strategies to reduce the number of public service workers.
Under a section titled Strategy Development, the document asks: "What kinds of solutions make sense? i.e. green housing, co-op, intern, discontinuing, restructuring, technology, different model."
"Public service workers are already stretched to the limit after the 30% cuts they endured during the Campbell government's first term," Walker says.
"Achieving a further 57% cut would mean either abandoning essential public services, or massively contracting out services to the private sector."