"The Sask Party may have a new leader, but it’s still trying to make people pay for its costly mistakes by cutting services that families rely on.”—Bob Bymoen, President of SGEU
Regina (05 March 2018)—Premier Scott Moe’s plan to cut the public service by 5 %, on top of the Wall government’s 15% cut, will have a major impact on Saskatchewan people, according to the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE).
Premier Moe and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer admitted Wednesday that government will pay for the partial reinstatement of PST exemptions with a 5% workforce reduction in executive government and the Crown Corporations.
Making the people pay for the government's errors
“Removing those PST exemptions in the first place was a mistake that punished Saskatchewan people,” says SGEU President Bob Bymoen. “And Moe’s only solution is to exchange it for another ill-advised policy that will hurt the people of this province. The Sask Party may have a new leader, but it’s still trying to make people pay for its costly mistakes by cutting services that families rely on.”
In 2010, the Sask Party government implemented a Workforce Adjustment Strategy that decreased the size of the public service by 15% over 4 years. Since then, the public service workforce has shrunk even further.
Meanwhile, the provincial population has grown by 11.6% – climbing from 1,046,788 in April 2010, just after the workforce reduction was announced, to 1,168,057 as of October 2017. And Moe has promised to increase the population even further, adding another 28,000 people each year until 2030.
“Moe’s proposed additional 5% cut raises huge concerns,” says Bymoen. “If he cuts the public service, who’s going to do the work of providing vital public services? Strong public services improve the quality of life for everyone in this province. And it’s been proven that the valued work done by public sector workers saves the province money.”
In the past, when the Sask Party has cut public services, it’s turned the job over to private consultants, who cost more than the public sector workers they replace. A 2015 study of roadbuilding consultants in Saskatchewan found they cost 2 to 4 times as much as employing equivalent public sector workers. And in a government IT contract that SGEU/NUPGE obtained via a freedom of information request, consultants charged between $100 and $175 per hour for work that would earn ministry staff a maximum of $46.31 per hour.
“There’s a costly side to cutting public services that shouldn’t be overlooked,” says Bymoen. “Saskatchewan people are already paying more and getting less as a result of this government’s financial mismanagement and budget cuts. Families in this province can’t afford to keep paying for the Sask Party’s costly decisions.”
Bymoen adds that there’s a better way to generate revenue for the province than to slash good jobs that support local communities and to cut public services in a growing province. For example, the Sask Party should implement a fair taxation policy and stop making giveaways to a business sector that has already been treated generously over the past decade. Even after reversing its absurd corporate tax cut, the government’s last budget still gave businesses new tax breaks in several areas. On top of that, instead of using marijuana and liquor sales to boost Saskatchewan’s public revenues, it turned the highly lucrative opportunities over to private business.
Cuts will impact people across the province
“With life already getting harder and less affordable for working families, public services need to be kept accessible,” says Bymoen. “The impact of slashing staff and contracting out services will be felt by every person in every corner of this province. Now is the time for the new Sask Party leader to take a different approach, and commit to strong, affordable public services for the people of Saskatchewan.”
Under Wall, the Sask Party government wasted millions of dollars on Lean, the overpriced Regina Bypass, the smart meter fiasco, and the GTH scandal. Moe could be more fiscally responsible by ditching costly megaprojects, cutting the number of MLAs, and reversing the 74% payroll increase that Wall gave his Executive Council between 2009 and 2016.
“As the new leader, Moe has a responsibility to clean up the mismanagement left behind by the Wall government,” says Bymoen, who has requested to meet with Premier Moe, but has yet to hear back.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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