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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.


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  1. Ken says:

    My point is, it could be a lot worse. And you, and others, should be glad that you don’t face the same risks that we do in the private sector, and that we pay so much in taxes to support you. And don’t forget, your pay isn’t everything: how about the pension? Medical benefits? Sick leave? That’s all part of your compensation. Last I heard from someone high-up at Treasury Board is that for $1 in pay, the government pays $1 in benefits. My last large employer paid $0.16/salary dollar.

    So accept this reality or move on.

    1. trashee says:

      Of course it could be worse! But it doesn’t HAVE to be.
      Something you may not now about me is that I grew up in a small family construction biz and actually worked in it for 6 yrs with my Dad. So, I know EXACTLY how good I have it!

  2. Ken says:

    If you don’t like having the target on your back, then quit. Go work in the private sector where you probably won’t get nearly the same benefits, or job security. Positions may be cut, but when was the last time the government actively laid people off, like they do in the private sector?

    1. trashee says:

      Just because the private sector automatically sacrifices staff
      at the slightest sign of a profit decline does not make it right, Ken. Yes, I could get a private sector job and yes it would have less security, but I would be paid about 50% more than i’m paid on the PS. Not to mention the perqs and bonuses.
      But, yeah I’ll stay where I am with that big target on my back and take my chances with the harperites.

    2. trashee says:

      Oh, and I think the last set of “real” layoffs happened in 95, but I could be wrong.

  3. trashee says:

    Absolutely – positions DO get cut. And this is especially true in the Fed PS where we are losing up to 40% of our staff due to retirements. The CD Howe folks proposed that only 1 of 5 of these positions be backfilled… which is simply unworkable!
    I am a Manager who is directly or indirectly responsible for about 14 folks (it does fluctuate a little), and I am told that due to cuts, I can’t afford to fill positions that are vacated due to promotions or retirements. So either someone else does double duty or the project suffers. This is not a good thing for either my staff or the quality of our product.
    The point being that eventually, something has to give, right?

  4. ck says:

    I’m a provincial bureaucrat for the health and social services sector. I can tell you first hand that positions do get cut in the sense that when someone either retires or leaves, more often than not, the position is never to be refilled, but rather, merged with another position. This is common the administrative support, which is what I do.

    When the receptionist at our head office retired, it merged with my position. So now, I do my previous job at the front desk, with a few other tasks to add. No, I’m not burning out from over work. However, my position is needed for one: the front desk and swithboard need to be covered. Get rid of ‘bureaucrats’, who would answer and reroute the calls? A social worker, childcare worker? The cook at a group home or detention unit? Same for typing documents: who would do that?

    I remembered some idiot awhile back at Grope & FAil comment boards saying the feds should lay off NO LESS than 12000 civil servants, to which i asked him, where would your services come from if they’re not around? As well as they never thought that the private sector isn’t hiring any of the thousands of out of work Canadians, want to add a minimum of 12000 more?

  5. trashee says:

    There is always an assumption that there is “fat” to be trimmed so the spending cuts are simply forcing departments to find “efficiencies”.
    But you can only go to that pond so much before the fish start to die.
    We have been hit with strategic reviews, blue ribbon panels and “efficiency” cuts so much over the past few years that the fat has been stripped and thrown on the BBQ!

  6. dave1949 says:

    The part of this I find fascinating is that there is never an end to pols who will say they’ll cut gov’t spending but not curtail services, and there seems to never be an end to idiots who will believe this when they are offered that particular fantasy world.

    I on the other hand can think all the way back to Mike Harris and I seem to remember this didn’t work out so well last time around either.

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