The latest round of federal cuts to the public service sector will affect 15 people in the Brandon area.
“Workforce adjustment” letters were handed out across Canada yesterday to 3,889 federal employees with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), including 125 in Manitoba.
The largest number of people affected in Brandon were from Service Canada, where 11 people received letters.
Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed said that it’s not necessarily job cuts because many of the people are offered the opportunity to relocate.
“As long as service is maintained for the public, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. We campaigned on the fact that we were going to balance our books and improve the economy and these are one of the many steps that we have to take,” Tweed said.
The letters received by Service Canada’s employees in Brandon is part of a previously announced plan to move all of unemployment insurance processing to centres outside Manitoba.
The Service Canada employees have been offered positions at unemployment insurance payment and processing offices in Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, Kamloops and Nanaimo.
Susan Norman is the national vice-president for the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (the component of the PSAC responsible for Service Canada and HRSDC), and she is one of the employees at the Brandon office who received a letter.
Norman believes the recent cuts the Federal Government has made to Service Canada will affect the service users of unemployment insurance receive.
“If you have a straight forward claim with no mistakes when it comes into the office you should still be OK, but if there is one mistake that bounces it out of the system then it could be weeks before it is looked at . . . If they have any problems then they will have to go through the call centre which we know is already jam-packed full of calls,” Norman said.
Tweed is not worried about the service levels in this region.
“Things are changing, we are going to a lot of electronic filing. The telephone is no longer the main source of contact with government agencies, it’s all done through the Internet,” Tweed said.
This fall the federal government is also considering a bill that would increase the age of retirement for federal public servants to 65 from 60, as well as increasing the amount employees have to contribute to the public service pension plan from 40 per cent to 50 per cent.
“Right now, public servants are not feeling very appreciated. At one time we were told that we are the most important asset to the federal government — we don’t feel that way anymore. With the cuts coming we know that the service to Canadians is going to suffer and many of these public servants are feeling bad about that, they are taking it almost personally. We’re also hearing in September there could be more cuts to come — there is uncertainty everyday,” said Norman.
Most federal departments are shedding jobs and Tweed did acknowledged that it may not be easy for laid-off public workers to find jobs in the public sector.
“It’s always difficult for someone going through a job transition or a job loss, but Brandon and the whole region is doing very well. So we hope there is opportunity for anyone who might be displaced and who doesn’t necessarily want to leave Brandon,” said Tweed.
Three people at the Canada Revenue Agency and one person at the Department of National Defence in the Brandon area also received a ‘workforce adjustment’ letters on Wednesday.
In the March budget, the government said it plans to eliminate 19,200 public service jobs. Thus far 18,200 public service employees have received letters.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 29, 2012