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March 15th, 2010:

Canadians OK with ReformCons fighting their deficit on the back of the PS

Of course Canadians back public sector cuts!! No big surprise there!

According to a new poll done by Nanos Research, Canadians feel that the government was correct in making the PS should the burden of the Conservative-created deficit.

“The default position for a lot of Canadians is to believe that there is always fat that can be trimmed in the public service,” says Nik Nanos, author of the new Nanos-Policy Options poll. “It shows that [the public service] is the easiest target. … [Canadians are saying] we would like others to shoulder the burden for managing the deficit as opposed to taking it on individually.”

While I normally don’t agree a lot with what PSAC says, it’s President, John Gordon is correct in saying:

“Every time the government gets into [trouble] they kind of ramp up the rhetoric and the Canadian public starts to believe them …” he said.

In general terms, he added, his members’ wages run behind those in comparable positions in the private sector.

His workers are an easy target, he said, because the government fails to explain what it means to get rid of public servants – that services provided to the public would be affected.

The problem, according to Mr. Gordon – and I agree – is that the average Canadian really isn’t too clear on what services we in the PS provide. It is easy to see what local governments do. Solid waste management, emergency services, road maintenance, etc. are easily identifiable as the responsibility of the municipal level of government. Even some Provincial services are easy to see: Provincial parks, Provincial police, many day to day approvals, car licensing – all are under the purview to one extent or another of the Provincial government (it does vary from Province to Province).

For example, Mr. Gordon points to the work done by federal public servants during the H1N1 crisis to get vaccines in place and deal with the pandemic.

“It’s easy to broad brush it and say they should be freezing wages, which they have already done and cutting public services, which they are already doing. …” he said, but added that the public has to ask itself what services it would like to see gone.

In truth, it is hard for the average Canuck to see how much we contribute. Yeah, with PS cutbacks come tax refund delays, long border line-ups, passport delays, drug research and approval delays, and a plethora of other services as well would feel the impact. But one of the bureaucracy’s biggest roles is to provide operational, research and logistical support to the government of Canada and its polices.  And we do this well and efficiently regardless of the party in power.

Yet, this is background and grunt work that we do. Often out of the public eye and seldom recognised by our political masters. But we chose our vocations and living with a target on our backs during times of fiscal restraint is just one of those things we have to accept.