To: All NAPE Members
Fr: NAPE President Jerry Earle
Re: 30% savings directive and potential layoffs in public sector
Dear brother / sister,
Yesterday, the media reported that the government is directing all government departments, agencies, boards, and corporations to identify 30% in savings in the coming three years. This does not necessarily mean the government plans to cut 30% across the board, however, it is a clear indication that this government is poised to take serious actions in the coming weeks and months ahead.
On the heels of this announcement, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett told reporters that all options, including layoffs, are on the table. This is a drastic reversal from the commitments made by the Liberals and Premier Dwight Ball during the election and since forming government. The assurances of ‘no layoffs’ were made numerous times on the record by Premier Ball and several of his senior Ministers, not only to the leadership of NAPE, but to all public sector workers across the province.
Minister Bennett also said that they have not made their minds up about the path forward on the financial front. Your union will be doing everything we can to ensure that Minister Bennett, Premier Ball, and the current government stick to their commitment regarding layoffs. Efforts have already begun on that front. Immediately after receiving news regarding layoffs being on the table, I sent an urgent meeting request to Premier Dwight Ball. I have also done and am scheduled to do numerous media interviews on the subject today, which is crucial in helping us make our case to the people of this province.
Let me be clear – your union will stand up for you, your families, your jobs, and the vital public services that you deliver to the people of the province every day.
We will impress upon government that a 30% cut, if that is their ultimate target, is not ‘trimming the fat’, it is cutting down to the bone and will only exacerbate the current fiscal situation.
We are cognizant of the current fiscal situation and we understand that we are all in this together – the future health of our province, socially and economically, is in all of our best interests. That said, we also need to be clear that the fiscal mismanagement of our province is not the fault of our members; they should not bear the brunt of the corrective actions as a result. When times are good, public sector workers are often last in line for improvements, when the times are tough, our members are usually at the front of the line to suffer the consequences.
We were recently told by the Minister of Finance that we would be consulted and involved in the path forward, and we expressed our thanks for the offer as well as our willingness to be involved in the consultation process. We were blindsided by yesterday’s news. Not a good start to working together. Despite this, however, we are still committed to working with this government to help address the issues that face our province. We are hopeful that the government has the same resolve.
Behind every statistic, behind every number on the ledger there is a dedicated and hardworking public sector worker trying to feed their family, pay bills, pay off a mortgage, find and pay for childcare, make ends meet, etc. These are not just numbers on a page, they are real people. They work each day to deliver the public services that make this province work, keep our communities safe, and drive our economy. They are the people who put their hard earned money back into the local economy. This province works because they do.
Cutting public sector workers not only impacts the individual worker – it means less services for everyone, it means less opportunities for young people to stay and work in our province, and it means less money in the local economy. The ripple effects of drastic actions, particularly in the form of service cuts, layoffs, and/or privatization will be felt far and wide, and can only serve to worsen the problem.
We will be making all of these points to the current government and the public at large.
There is no doubt that the weeks and months ahead will be challenging, but it is our solidarity that will see us through these difficult times.
We will continue to update members as we move forward.