President Wales calls 'increase' in civil service misleading

“As Manitobans, we all have to realize that services are always affected. Any position you eliminate, even through attrition, is going to have an impact on the services delivered to Manitobans." - Lois Wales, MGEU President.

photo of Lois Wales, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE)Winnipeg (10 Oct. 2012) - In a report released by the Manitoba Civil Service Commission, the number of government employees, as of March 31, 2012, stands at 15,300.

The numbers represent a three per cent increase over the previous year (when the number of civil servants was pegged at 14,878) but Lois Wales, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) says that’s not the whole story.

“The number of employees may have gone up, but it’s a little misleading. The figures don’t tell you if those positions are full-time, part-time, casual or term.”

The only places where new hires were seen remains in just a handful of departments, primarily in Justice and Health. Wales noted that in nearly all other government departments, staffing levels have plateaued or dropped.

“In fact, the vacancy rate in some departments is at an all-time high,” says Wales.

From what Finance Minister Stan Struthers said yesterday, it appears the province is not going to ease the burden on those still working in these understaffed areas.

"No doubt, there are positions that are vacant now that we can eliminate and repriorize within the civil service..." Struthers said at a news conference.

“That’s definitely a concern for me,” says Wales. “As Manitobans, we all have to realize that services are always affected. Any position you eliminate, even through attrition, is going to have an impact on the services delivered to Manitobans. Think about it: whenever you hear a politician make a promise like, ‘We want to invest in healthcare,’ or ‘We want to get tough on crime,’ these statements always result in hiring more employees to do the work and improve services. I understand their [the Province’s] need to get the deficit under control, but Manitobans need to understand that there are consequences to eliminating vacant positions.”

As another measure to slay the deficit, the province continues to say it will sell $80 million worth of Crown assets, but has yet to say which assets it plans to sell.

“These are all things we’re watching very closely to see what their decisions mean to our members. If they sell a building somewhere, what happens to the maintenance staff working there? These are the questions I have and I want to see more details on what assets they’re looking to sell because it might have an impact on our members.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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

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