Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So Many Things, So Little Time...

Source: CTV News: Despite Vote, PMO Against '10-Percenter' Flyers
Source: CBC News: Motion to Limit PM's Prorogation Power Passes
Source: CBC News: Union Head Furious with Proposed Civil Service Cut
Source: CBC News: Sask. Civil Service Cuts Planned: Opposition

Well, another week, and another rapid fire amount of news stories that deserve talking about. I'll get the Federal things out of the way, then come back around to focus on the Provincial news stories.

Two very important things happened in Ottawa today, both of which the Conservative Government have quickly announced were 'non-binding' motions and that the Government of Canada was not obligated to follow through on the passed motions.

Those two motions were the banning of 'ten-percenter' flyers, and a motion which would remove the ability of the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament for more than seven days without Parliamentary approval. And as I already mentioned, the Harper Government has stated that these motions are non-binding and that they do not have a responsibility to live up to them.

However, the Harper Government is trying to have it both ways. At least on the issue of the ten-percenters. Despite the Conservatives voting against the motion in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has come out and said that they support the 'notion' contained in the bill. Claiming that they would support the removal of out-of-riding ten-percenters, provided that it applied to all the parties.

Then of course, they added the caveat that they do not have a majority on the Board/Committee which would decide such a thing, and that it was more or less up to the opposition. So, we have Conservatives voting against a motion which they actually support, as they try to make it look like their decision doesn't matter anyways because the opposition are the parties that have to make it work...Despite the opposition parties voting in favour of the motion.

As for the prorogation motion, the Conservatives are not rushing forward to defend the 'notion' of that. Oddly enough.

And now we look towards Saskatchewan; where our illustrious Premier and Finance Minister seem to be backing a plan to cut Saskatchewan's civil service by 4% each year for the next four years, so that's 16% after four years, a total which adds up to 1,800 jobs.

When asked for specifics on how much money the government would be saving, Finance Minister Gantefoer simply said the savings would be significant, and that a smaller government is part of the Saskatchewan Party's platform, and this would be a means of helping to achieve that.

Furthermore, Gantefoer has taken the 'Federal Approach' by attempting to say that most of these job losses will simply come from not filling vacant jobs, but that some will indeed be lay offs.

I think we all remember when the Saskatchewan Party came to power and laid off a little over 100 civil servants as their first order of house cleaning. Do we remember how much severance was paid out to those who were laid off? The reported number, was $4.1 million dollars. So, in a year when Saskatchewan has paid $220 million to potash companies for the optimistic royalty rates which they predicted would give our province $2.2 billion in revenue; and a year where we've seen crowns having to apply for major rate increases after the 'Saskatchewan First' policy; we need to ask ourselves what the lay off of 1,800 civil servants is going to cost us.

Even if we believe Gantefoer and say that only 800 of the jobs are going to be lay offs, or even 1,000, or even 500...That's more civil servants than were laid off in 2008, and they will cost our province more than $4.1 million dollars in a severance package. So, really, how much will Saskatchewan save by cutting these jobs?

In the long run, not enough to make it worth the loss of 1,800 jobs, filled or unfilled as they may be.

And if we're to take Bob Bymoen, President of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) at his word, then a lot of these vacant jobs are being subcontracted out by the provincial government at a higher cost than what it would be to fill the job permanently. As such, if the empty jobs are already being performed, we will see a reduction in services in whatever department finds themselves under the razor.

And if these jobs are being performed by the private sector, despite being government positions which could be filled, then it is safe to say that any jobs lost in the public sector are going to directly benefit the private sector. By which, of course I mean, that our tax dollars will go towards continuing subcontracting to private companies at inflated prices, meaning that we will see no savings from the elimination of these jobs.

I think Finance Minister Gantefoer showed his true colours when he talked about this reduction. This reduction is not about the economy, even though the Sask Party has done nothing but make it worse since coming to office; but about ideology: This is the Sask Party gutting the civil service because of their believe in small government, disguised as a means of tightening the provincial budget.

Hopefully, Saskatchewan residents are able to see through the smoke and notice the real fire.

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