Federal Budget 2013 missed opportunity for the economy and services: PSAC

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive:

The Harper Conservatives’ 2013 federal budget is a “missed opportunity for the economy and services”, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada. PSAC says austerity measures hurt Canadians, urges the government to reverse course.

This press release:

The union representing most federal government workers in Canada says that Federal Budget 2013 is a missed opportunity for the economy and services.

“We called on the government to recognize that austerity has hurt Canadians and the economy and that it’s time to reverse cuts and invest in and restore federal government services,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.

“Canadians across the country have lost services they rely on, and the job cuts in government are hurting economies big and small,” she added.

See: What we need from the 2013 Federal Budget: PSAC’s pre-budget position paper

Benson says PSAC is concerned that initiatives announced around online access to services may mean further cuts to frontline services that have been seen at Veterans Affairs, Immigration Canada, and Service Canada, for example.

The government also commits to new initiatives aimed at curbing tax evasion and fraud, but doesn’t commit to replacing the workers who’ve been handed surplus notices at the Canada Revenue Agency. Since last year’s budget, CRA has told 911 workers they could lose their jobs, including special investigators. This budget will likely further reduce CRA’s workforce, and that doesn’t fit with a commitment to catching tax evaders.

Benson said she is troubled that instead of reinvesting in federal government services, the government has committed $1.5 billion over five years to P3 Canada, and might be considering privatizing the delivery of some Canadian social programs.

“We’ve called on the government to abandon its pursuit of P3s because they are costly and unaccountable,” said Benson. “We are especially alarmed that the government is considering privatizing services currently offered publicly, such as those for youth at risk, persons with disabilities and the homeless. No one should make a profit on the people who need these services.”

The government commits to $617 million in savings by 2018 through technological and administrative efficiencies. What does that mean? More cuts to programs and services? More job losses? It isn’t clear and Canadians need more information.

The government also says it want to talk to federal unions about sick leave, disability insurance and other human resource issues. We’ll talk, but we’re not giving up the benefits that protect our members.

PSAC echoes the Canadian Auto Workers Union‘s pre-budget call. CAW had urged the 2013 budget to focus on job creation, not cutbacks.

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.