Saskatchewan budget disappoints in key areas | National Union of Public and General Employees

Saskatchewan budget disappoints in key areas

Contains mix of job cuts and new positions but lacks adequate funding in several important departments, SGEU says.

Bob Bymoen, president of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' UnionRegina (19 March 2009) - The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) says the new provincial budget eliminates some jobs while creating others and contains disappointments in several key areas.

"While SGEU is pleased (the budget) adds some new front-line positions to several different ministries, the union is concerned that 31 people will be losing their jobs," the union says in a news release.

Eleven people in government services, nine in education, seven in the office of the provincial secretary, three in advanced education, employment and labour, and one in First Nations and Metis relations will lose their jobs as of May 18.

"We are always concerned when members face job loss. It is a difficult process for workers and their families, but we will be there to support them and are hopeful that we can assist them in finding new positions within the bargaining unit," says SGEU president Bob Bymoen.

75 jobs cut, 96 added

In addition to the encumbered positions lost, 44 vacant positions are also being eliminated for a total of 75 positions cut. The cuts are offset by the addition of 96 new positions across government.

"We hope that this signals a commitment to maintaining a strong public service," Bymoen says.

"Even though Saskatchewan is currently faring much better than other provinces, it is prudent to prepare for an economic slowdown and, as we have seen nationally and internationally, economic stimulus through job creation and investment in a strong public infrastructure is the best way to ensure economic well-being."

The majority of the new positions — 62 — will be in corrections, public safety and policing.

"Corrections workers have been asking for additional staff to address problems in the over-crowded facilities for years, so we hope these new positions will strengthen front-line resources," Bymoen said.

Other new positions will be created in education, energy and resources, and municipal government.

Modest 3% for CBOs

SGEU expressed disappointment with the announcement of a modest 3% increase for community-based organizations (CBOs).

"Many of these workers still earn poverty-level wages," notes Bymoen. "Three per cent is not enough to make a real difference in their take-home pay. We had also hoped to see a multi-year funding plan, which government has promised, to ensure some stability in that sector," he added.

The budget also appears to lack the necessary resources to reflect the government's commitment to fund increases for health service providers, who have been without a contract for almost a year and who have been having little success at the bargaining table.

"Government has, through its essential services legislation, taken away the union's ability to take job action to push for a conclusion to bargaining. Yet they do not seem to have allocated sufficient money to ensure a collective agreement will be reached," says Bymoen.

Finally, while SGEU welcomes the addition of 1,100 new training seats in the post-secondary education sector, the union says there is little evidence in the budget that there is a corresponding increase in funding to the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) to deliver more training.

"We will be monitoring the situation to ensure that funds are directed to our public post-secondary skills training system," Bymoen says.

NUPGE

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