Seventeen per cent of the provincial government’s core management positions are being cut, representing a total of 287 positions, 90 of which are currently vacant.
That announcement was made this morning by Premier Dwight Ball and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett. She says notifications begin today and will be completed within a week.
Three government departments are also being changed, Minister Steve Crocker will be responsible for the Department of Fisheries and Lands. Christopher Mitchelmore will be responsible for the Department of Tourism Industry and Innovation, while Minister Eddie Joyce will oversee the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.
An Intergovernmental Affairs and Indigenous Secretariat and Office of Labrador Affairs has been established, over which Premier Ball will be responsible.
The cuts represent $20- to $25-million in salary savings, however government will spend approximately $15-million this fiscal year in payment-in-lieu-of-notice. Premier Ball says they’ve tried to impose the cuts in a thoughtful manner. Minister Bennett will not identify the departments out of respect for the people affected.
Newfoundland and Labrador has 94 public sector workers for every 1,000 residents, well above the national average of 67.
Premier Ball says there is no target set to bring the province’s ratio of public sector workers in line with the national average. But he says, they do assess and compare the situation in other provinces with lower populations and broad geography.
Public sector negotiations continue. Minister Bennett won’t say if public sector layoffs are possible. She says they have no current plans or proposals on public sector layoffs.
Here’s what we know about today’s public service cuts.
- 287 management positions eliminated (90 are currently vacant).
- $20-$25-million in annual salary savings.
- $15-million will be spent to cover cost of pay in lieu of notice.
- Cuts represent 17 per cent reduction in management positions.
NL has 40 per cent more public servants than the Canadian average. (94 positions per 1,000 residents compared to the Canadian average of 67 per 1,000 residents).
- Dept of Fisheries and Land Resources – 30 of those positions will move to Corner Brook, if they wish. Now overseen by Minister Steve Crocker
- Department of Tourism Industry and Innovation will now be overseen by Minister Chris Mitchelmore
- Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment will now be overseen by Minister Eddie Joyce.
Opposition Sceptical About Cuts
Opposition parties are sceptical about the cuts announced today by government. PC Leader Paul Davis says the announcement was short on details.
Davis says he knows this is a difficult day for some, but wonders if any of these jobs will be backfilled like they did when Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Minister’s positions were cut and then replaced with Liberal supporters and candidates.
NDP Leader Earl McCurdy says he is concerned about unemployment levels in the province and feels the Liberals don’t have a plan to deal with the issue.
He says the Liberal “Way Forward” plan sets no employment targets.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the NL Employers’ Council, Richard Alexander feels the latest round of cuts was unavoidable.
He says as difficult as this is, government had no choice because the province can’t afford to have the largest public service in Canada.