Author Topic: Charlottetown and federal employee unions band together to prevent job losses  (Read 1187 times)

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Province, Charlottetown and federal employee unions band together to prevent job losses

Published on March 11, 2012

The provincial government, city of Charlottetown and unions representing federal employees on P.E.I. are combining their efforts in an attempt to limit job losses in the province as a result of national budget cutbacks.

The initiative is in response to widespread reports that the federal government may eliminate hundreds of positions or lay off employees in attempts to balance the budget, which comes down March 29.

Many of the federal jobs cuts would occur in Charlottetown, mainly at Veterans Affairs Canada.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said those positions are essential to the city's vitality.

"We need to ensure that those making decisions in the federal government recognize the social and financial impact federal employment has on our community," said Lee.

The initiative also includes the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

The three-way initiative has commissioned research to the law firm of MacInnis Cooper to document the depth and breadth of potential federal job losses on the province.

It's expected that a draft of the study will be available by the end of the month. Jeannie Baldwin, Atlantic Regional executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the study will help build the case that federal jobs must remain on the province.

"The vast majority of Canadians did not give (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper's Conservatives a mandate to cut the jobs and services they depend on," she said.

Last October, plans were announced to cut $226 million from the VAC budget over the next two years, translating into at least 500 jobs that will be lost.

No guarantees have been given on the job security of VAC employees in Charlottetown, of approximately 1,300 individuals, while others suspect the budget will include even more positions being terminated.

Jody LaPierre, president of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, has said that slashing 500 Veterans Affairs jobs in Charlottetown would amount to a $52-million hit to the local economy.

While a declining number of veterans has been the federal government's reasoning for the cuts, LaPierre pointed out that the cuts will reduce staffing number by 12 per cent while the number of VAC clients will only reduce by 5.6 per cent over the next four years.

PIPSC president Gary Corbett represents 279 professionals at VAC in Charlottetown.

"At the end of the day, we need to work together to make our case that federal public sector jobs are key to the economic lifeblood of smaller communities like those on Prince Edward Island," said Corbett.

"We have to do all we can to ensure that the jobs remain in those communities."

Montague is another Island community that will soon see the departure of federal jobs.

Approximately 30 federal employees at the town's Service Canada branch were told last fall their jobs will be moved out of P.E.I.

About 100 public service workers staged a protest less than two weeks ago to voice their concerns of the budget cuts.

Premier Robert Ghiz has said he is pleased to see the number of different groups and individuals working together to make a strong case to Ottawa.

"Maintaining a strong federal presence on the Island is absolutely vital," said Ghiz.
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