It was neither surprising, nor climactic, but it was announced right off the bat in today’s budget address: the public service sector will receive cutbacks.
The Saskatchewan government is striving for a “smaller, more efficient public service,” said Rob Gantefoer in his budget speech this afternoon. The Wall
government wants to achieve efficiency by reducing the public service by 4 per cent in the coming year. The reduction comes as part of a four-year plan to eventually reduce the size of the public service by 15 per cent.
SFL president Larry Hubich and SGEU president Bob Bymoen. Photo by: Leila Beaudoin.
The public service commission is set to receive approximately $37 million if the budget holds true. Compared to 2009, this would be a $13 million reduction.
To Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU, trying to make the public service more efficient by cutting jobs is an “oxymoron.”
“The population is growing and the GDP is increasing. The role of the public service should grow with the GDP,” said Boeman.
“Smaller doesn’t necessarily mean more efficient and more effective,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich. “We see (these cuts) as an unnecessary attack on the people who actually deliver the service.”
Brad Wall said that a “leaner” government doesn’t mean fewer services will be available, however. “I’ve seen evidence in the Crowns and in health, where if we use our resources more effectively, if we adopt new techniques like ‘lean,’ we can actually do more with less,” said Wall.
The Ministry of Health will receive nearly 42 per cent of all government money in the coming year. As such, health workers will be worst affected by public service cuts, said opposition leader Dwain Lingenfelter.
“I understand why Brad is spinning the words ‘civil service’ – what we’re talking about is health cuts. In a department that’s already over-worked and under-staffed you’re really talking about longer waiting lists and less health service,” he said.
In the speech however, Gantefoer said the government will make the public service smaller and more efficient primarily by removing jobs that become vacant. “(Many workers) who retire or move to other opportunities will not be replaced,” said the minister of finance.
For critics, the Sask. Party’s approach to reducing the number of government workers is hypocritical. “He should try (cutting jobs) in his own office if (it’s) such a great theory,” said Lingenfelter.
Hubich echoed this: “Don’t tell me - show me. Unless you’re prepared to do what you’re advocating other people to do, then I think you’ve got a lot to explain.”
The executive council budget remains pretty much unchanged from 2009.