[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — Federal job cuts are disproportionately affecting P.E.I. and could cost the province upwards of $60 million, according to an economic impact study released Wednesday.
Cuts to the federal civil service announced over the last several months will mean a loss of 379 to 458 positions, the report says.
This will have significant financial repercussions to Prince Edward Island’s economy.
“By any measure, job losses of this magnitude and the associated impacts are a cause of serious concern for the overall provincial economy,” the report states.
It was commissioned by a taskforce struck between the P.E.I. government, the city of Charlottetown and the two largest unions representing federal workers in P.E.I. — the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).
These groups came together after the Harper government’s 2012 budget revealed the slashing of hundreds of federal jobs in P.E.I., among other provinces, as part of an overall federal deficit-reduction plan.
The group hired law firm McInnes Cooper to measure the economic impacts these cuts will have on the province. They also measured the scope of the cuts compared to the rest of the country.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz’s former chief of staff Chris LeClair authored the report.
It says P.E.I. “appears to be shouldering a disproportionate amount of federal job cuts.”
“According to the Government of Canada, the planned overall reduction of 19,200 positions Canada-wide amounts to 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce. Even on the low side of the estimate of cuts in P.E.I., likely reductions amount to 10 per cent of the federal workforce.”
LeClair said the loss of a small number of jobs with an average salary of over $78,000 a year is felt more significantly in a smaller province like P.E.I.
“A loss of five jobs, a loss of 10 jobs in a community the size of Prince Edward Island, in a community the size of Montague that lost a service centre, these jobs have an exponential impact on our economy so the loss of government jobs is significant,” LeClair said.
P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allen Roach questioned the need for such large employment reductions in such a small jurisdiction when he believes the federal government has ‘flexibility’ within its budget.
“In its latest plans we have seen the federal government curtail spending and services without taking any steps calculated to bring in more revenues,” Roach said. “The federal government, at least according to some recent data, is on pace to balance its budget ahead of schedule. They have flexibility. They can balance their books without strictly relying on deep cuts that will be damaging to this province.”
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said he believes P.E.I. and the city are being unfairly targeted by the federal reductions.
He said close to 33 per cent of the total cuts to Veterans Affairs Canada are happening in Charlottetown.
“That is an alarming number when you think of the important services that this department provides to Canadians who have done so much for us and for all Canadians.”
Lee said P.E.I. is not looking for special treatment by the feds regarding these cuts, but the group is looking instead to be treated more proportionately.
“I’m not going to stand by and let this happen without a good fight,” Lee said. “I think it’s important that we all come together to work with the city and the province and ask Ottawa to treat us fairly.”
Gary Corbett, national president of the PIPSC, said this study is important because it is the first of its kind to show some of the tangible effects the federal government’s employment reductions will have on people and communities.
“We have to send a strong message not to cut these federal positions,” Corbett said. “We need to draw attention to the damage that these cuts will do and work together to put pressure on the federal government to change its course.”
National PSAC vice president Chris Aylward agreed.
His union is soliciting feedback from Canadians on how the cuts will impact them to help put a face on these reductions.
“Canadians deserve to know exactly the reality behind these cuts. They deserve to hear the truth,” Aylward said.
The impact analysis study on the effects of federal job cuts to P.E.I. was launched in February 2012.
The key findings of the report are as follows:
- There are 35 federal government units (departments, agencies, crown corporations) in P.E.I. This amounts to 3,827 permanent federal positions.
-The federal government is the second largest employer on P.E.I. after the provincial government, representing about 5.3 per cent of the total provincial workforce.
- Over the next three years, 379 to 458 positions (between 10 to 12 per cent of the federal workforce in P.E.I.) will be eliminated.
- It is estimated these cuts will generate additional non-government job losses of between 247 and 298 for a total job loss projection ranging from 626 to 756 positions.
- This represents a P.E.I. GDP decline of between $50.46 and $61.02 million or about 1.01 to 1.22 per cent of provincial GDP.