Austerity budget leaves Canadians in the dark about its impact on services and the economy

Apr 04, 2012, 10:00 ET from PSAC

OTTAWA, April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Canada's largest federal public sector union is calling on the government to give Canadians a department by department accounting of exactly what services are going to be cut - where, when and how.

"Without that information Canadians won't know what services they are losing until they are gone," said Patty Ducharme, PSAC's National Executive Vice-President.

The call came in an analysis of Budget 2012 released at a news conference in Ottawa today. That analysis emphasizes the connection between "back office" functions and the services Canadians rely on.

"When you take the 'back office' out of services, you take services away from Canadians," said Ducharme. "We've seen that with cuts to Service Canada, and thousands of people waiting weeks to receive their first Employment Insurance and Old Age Security cheques," she said.

The union also asked if the government is downplaying anticipated job losses and their impact on the economy. PSAC's budget analysis says the government's job loss estimates do not include the 6,300 jobs still to be cut by 2015 because of the 2007-2010 "strategic reviews," or another 9,700 positions lost because of a 2010 personnel freeze. Nor do they include thousands of term workers who will likely lose their jobs, cuts at the CBC and other agencies dependent on federal funding, or the ripple effect on the private sector.

"Has this government thought through the impact on small and medium sized businesses who count those 34,000 public service workers as clients?" asked Larry Rousseau, Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region. "There seems to be no accounting for what this means to smaller economies or the Canadian economy as a whole."

PSAC also highlighted the impact of "cutting red tape" on Canadians' health and safety. The government has revealed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will no longer be responsible for policing nutrition claims on food labels, instead using a "web-based verification tool," that puts the onus on consumers to verify nutrition claims and bring any concerns directly to businesses for resolution.

"So much for jobs, growth and long term prosperity," said Ducharme. "This budget is doing the exact opposite: eliminating tens of thousands of jobs which will inevitably shrink the economy and leave Canadians worse off in the long run."