OTTAWA – Details about federal cuts continue to trickle out as the impact of the March 29 budget becomes tangible.
When the Tories tabled their first majority budget, Ottawa annouced its review and subsequent slashing of departmental funding would mean annual savings of $5.2 billion – savings that would be achieved through budget cuts and 19,200 job losses.
Union leaders and other critics warn the cuts will hurt Canada – consumers won’t receive as thorough monitoring on food safety concerns, lineups will be longer at the border, the country will lose federal researchers monitoring the environment and veterans will have less access to assistance, critics allege.
Here’s a record of the job and programs cuts so far and what they could mean to Canadians:
Longer wait times:
Canada Border Services Agency: 1,137 jobs
How these cuts could affect Canadians: The CBSA took a major hit when its employees received notice that 1,137 jobs were on the line. Union leaders criticized cuts to Canada’s frontline border security, warning Ottawa and Canadians that these job losses would lead to longer wait times at the border. On Thursday, hundreds were warned that their jobs may be on the line. The agency was forced to slash its budget by $143 million over three years.
Critics claimed that these cuts contradict the government’s commitment to border security, especially after Ottawa committed to increased perimeter security deals with the United States. At peak periods, wait times could be longer than 90 minutes.
Public Safety employees received notices that 71 people could lose their jobs.
Food security for Canadians:
Health Canada: 715 jobs
Public Health Agency of Canada: 483 jobs
Canadian Food Inspection Agency: 308 jobs
Department of Agriculture: 689
How these cuts could affect Canadians: These departments could lose food safety inspectors, the people who look into the security of what is on Canadians’ dinner table. They’re also the Canadian authority over the nation’s health and well-being. During outbreaks, such as H1N1, for example, PHAC looked after the nation’s access to vaccines and its rollout to provinces.
Health Canada has already been warned that many of cuts were coming from within the First Nation and Inuit Health branch. Still, programs getting the boot haven’t been named because not all employees have been notified.
Within the CFIA, critics have insisted that the department is already understaffed and further cuts would mean less policing in the murky waters of food safety for Canadians
That means corporations could face less scrutiny in what they put in their products and what they advertise to consumers.
Some veterinarians, who inspect and certify animal and meat products, will be cut.
The government says that it’s actually increasing food safety resources – $51 million in the budget has been allocated to the Department of Agriculture.
Less assistance for veterans and immigrants
Veteran Affairs: 261 jobs
How these cuts could affect Canadians: PSAC says it knows cuts to the department are in the client services area – precisely workers who play a “critical role” in helping veterans obtain benefits and services. By the fall, 75 client service agents will be gone.
Citizenship and Immigration: 339 jobs
How these cuts could affect Canadians: Critics haven’t discussed how these looming cuts could affect the department that controls and oversees who immigrates to Canada and how they adapt. Still, application processing times has been a frustration for Canadians sponsoring their loved ones. Some reports suggest that there are tens of thousands of immigrants waiting in an application backlog that could take years.
Environment Canada: 137 jobs
Canadian Space Agency: 7 jobs
CIDA: 534 jobs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade: 21
Department of Economic Diversification: 45
How these cuts could affect Canadians: Economists, social-science policy experts and scientists (biologists, chemists, medical doctors, engineers and technology specialists) could be those hit with pink slips within these departments. According to the Professional Institute Service of Canada, which represents 60,000 professionals, about 2,000 members have been handed notices since March 29.
Shorter park seasons:
Parks Canada: 638 jobs
How these cuts could affect Canadians: The union representing Parks Canada employees says 638 job cuts will results in shorter seasons at Canada’s national parks and historic sites. For example, lockmasters on the Rideau Canal were told their season would end a month earlier this year. Unions warn the spillover of a shorter season will affect small towns surrounding parks that depend on tourism.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 650 jobs, 475 this year
How these cuts could affect Canada: The CBC’s budget has been slashed by $115 million. It announced this week that 88 full-time jobs will be lost. Connect with Mark Kelly, Dispatches with Rick MacInnes-Rae on CBC Radio One, along with bureaus in Africa and South America have the taken the fall from the cuts.
There will also be fewer documentaries for Canadians along with cuts to the network’s night broadcast, The National.
Television waters could notice a change – $21.2 million will be cut from programming, shedding another 32 full-time positions. The network is also leaving behind six original series programs and specials, which could mean more reruns.
Health Canada: A $15 million funding cut to the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy.
How these cuts could affect Canadians: More than 37,000 Canadians die from tobacco related disease each year, a statistic that carries a $4.4 billion price tag. The Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations warn the cut could mean fewer supports for Canadians who want to butt out. But Health Canada said with smoking rates now at a historic low of 17 per cent, it’s time to refocus anti-smoking efforts on groups where smoking rates are still high, such as aboriginal populations.
Statistics Canada: 273 people will have their jobs eliminated. Another 455 people have been put on notice.
How these cuts could affect Canadians: Unions warns that government departments, provinces, municipalities and researchers may not have the statistics they need to inform policy-making.
First Nations Governance:
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Closure of the National Centre for First Nations Governance.
How these cuts could affect Canadians: The National Centre for First Nations Governance, which bills itself as the only organization in dedicated solely to that issue, will be closing its doors in March 2013. Representatives of the centre say its funding has been cut by AANC. The centre’s president Herb George said the cut will eliminate support for First Nations hoping to establish self-governance. George said the centre plays a key role in helping communities move beyond the oppression of the Indian Act by creating their own laws and economies.