Saturday, November 1st4.2°C
23710
22746

Road to balanced books cuts directly through federal public service

OTTAWA - The Conservative government's march toward balanced budgets cuts directly through the federal public service.

Of all the line items in the balance sheet of spending and squeezing, one clearly overshadows the rest — $7.4 billion in savings estimated over six years from cutting public-service compensation.

The measure is subject to contract talks with more than a dozen public-sector unions.

"The government's overarching goal in these negotiations is to reach agreements on total public service compensation that are fair and reasonable to employees and to taxpayers," says the budget document.

By comparison, the budget estimates only $1.8 billion in savings from various other measures.

The public service will also shoulder a two-year freeze in government spending announced last fall, representing savings of $1.6 billion. That's likely to translate into the loss of more positions and programs inside government: salaries account for well over half of departmental spending.

The freeze will apply across government, making for a potentially difficult situation for departments already adjusting to several years of spending reductions. National Defence, for one, has lost $2.1 billion in operational funding since 2010.

Any initiatives that will require extra staff and spending will have to be funded from within existing operating budgets.

Often the loss of programs isn't clear to the public until much later — for example, the closure of many national parks during the winter and the loss of certain passenger train routes was never signalled in any budget document.

At the core of the compensation plan proposal is a change to the health benefits available to retired bureaucrats. Under the proposal, the government will go from paying 75 per cent of the costs of the health plan to sharing the costs equally with pensioners.

Employees would also not be eligible to participate in the program until they've worked for the government for six years, versus the current threshold of two years.

Current retirees would not be affected by the changes.

The Finance Department says the change will provide major savings to the government, but won't be a huge burden to the average public-service retiree — increasing the cost of annual payments to $550 from $261.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, whose department oversees contracts with public-sector unions, has also signalled his intent to change the disability and sick-leave system for bureaucrats.

The potential savings in decreasing the number of yearly sick days and other measures was not booked in this budget, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer has questioned the government's numbers in estimating its sick-day liability.

But Clement has indicated he is ready to go head-to-head with the unions over the changes. The Conservatives have made labour one of their political punching bags, advocating for greater financial reporting of spending by unions, among other things.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

23057


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14613.32+154.63
S&P CDNX769.59-2.06
DJIA17390.52195.10
Nasdaq4630.742+64.604
S&P 5002018.05+23.40
CDN Dollar0.88750.00
Gold1166.30-32.2999
Oil80.55-0.35
Lumber325.70+2.10
Natural Gas3.715+0.066

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.125+0.015
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.18+0.03
Cantex0.045-0.015
Anavex Life Sciences0.185+0.0139
Metalex Ventures0.03-0.005
Russel Metals32.85+0.63
Copper Mountain Mining2.09+0.12
Colorado Resources0.125-0.015
ReliaBrand Inc0.015+0.003
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05+0.025
Mission Ready Services0.39+0.015

 



23607

FEATURED Property
2101301327 Stellar Drive
4 bedrooms 5 baths
$675,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Empty nesting: financial issues

Now that the children have ‘left the nest’, it is a good time to step back and take stock of your financial situation. Being on your own will probably cut household costs to some extent, b...


Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s imp...


What I learned in China

Photo: ContributedI will never be an expert on China. It is just too big, too complex and too old with layers of history and meaning that would take several lifetimes to unravel. As I said to my hosts...

_



23884

23884


Member of BC Press Council


23895