[OTTAWA, ON] — The axe is beginning to fall on jobs across the public service, with the Defence Department among the first to report losses.
The Union of National Defence Employees says around 1,100 civilian positions are being eliminated.
The losses will be felt across the country, from military bases to reserve sites.
Union president John MacLennan says everything from research and development to food services is on the chopping block.
The department took a big hit in last week's federal budget and was told it will need to cut over $1.1 billion over the next three years.
But the government has also committed to keeping the regular and reserve fighting force intact.
"If the government is not going to cut the size of the military or close any bases, who is going to do all the work?'' MacLennan asked.
He said the answer is soldiers.
Around 19,200 civil servants will lose their jobs over the next three years as a result of the budget, but unions say the cuts to the public service actually go much deeper.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada says 9,700 positions have already been lost as a result of a budget freeze in 2010 and there are still 6,300 jobs that will be cut as a result of the 2007-2010 spending reviews.
Some workers could be reassigned to different posts, while others will be given the option of leaving early; about 7,000 of the jobs cuts reported in the budget will be due to attrition, the government said.
But PSAC says that number is meaningless.
"How does a government know how many people are actually going to retire?" said Patty Ducharme, PSAC's national executive vice-president.
Ducharme said there is no uniform approach to communicating the cuts to employees, creating a great deal of anxiety.
"People are feeling that they don't want to put their heads up, that they're afraid to speak out about what's going in their departments and agencies," she said. "These are people who are responsible for their families, who contribute to the economy, who deliver important services to Canadians every day and they're afraid on the job."
An analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that even the 19,200 number reported in the budget is misleading, as it only applies to core public services.