Stephen Harper isn’t exactly a proponent of organized labour. He’s also not a big fan of strong public services or the public service workers that provide them. His government’s attacks on public services and union members across this country have been relentless.
But PSAC members are fighting back. Last week members across the region took it upon themselves to counter the anti-labour rhetoric by submitting letters to the editor of their local newspapers.
The letters page is one place where the public can have their voices heard and participate in a public discussion about an issue. We’ve posted a selection of the letters that members submitted and shared with PSAC.
This week, federal government departments are hosting “National Public Service Week” to celebrate our civil service’s contributions to Canadian society. Pancake breakfasts, BBQ’s, coffee and cake – all offered up to show workers that our employer – the Government of Canada, appreciates our efforts.
The weeks’ sentiment rings false however to many of us in the public service after several years of budget cuts, over 19, 000 lost positions, and several public attacks on our unions, our work ethic and our benefit packages by the head of the Treasury Board, Minister Tony Clement.
A pancake breakfast is nice – sick leave is fair.
Despite what we have been told, public servants are no more likely to abuse sick leave than any other workers, nor can sick leave be “cashed in” if unused. It’s an insurance plan – similar to the insurance on your house, and like insurance, no one wants to have to make a claim. Sick workers should not be at work. Still, the conservatives would like to overhaul public service sick leave entitlements and contract out it’s management to a private company. I’ll take my appreciation in the form of the benefits that my union has already negotiated for fairly, you can keep the pancakes, Tony.
A BBQ? What about a pension?
The Government has made little secret of the fact that it intends to move the public service away from it’s current “defined” benefit pension plan, to a “targeted” benefit plan. This will put the retirement security of thousands of workers in serious jeopardy, Public servants are the main contributors to their pension plan – a plan is adequately funded and viable according to the chief actuary of Canada. If the government wanted to show public servants how much they were valued – wouldn’t letting them retire in dignity go farther than a burger?
Coffee and cake? What about ALL Canadians?
In the years since the Harper Government obtained its majority in Parliament, Canadians have seen the hasty and reckless destruction of many valued institutions and cuts to services they hold dear. Services like Veterans Affairs, Environmental protections, The Canadian Wheat Board and Food inspection, to name a few. A cup of coffee and a piece of cake will not go far to replace any of these, but this government is hoping to try.
Sherry Hunt, Lethbridge (published in the Lethbridge Herald)
National Public Service Week? Really? I’m a public service employee, and I live in daily fear. When is my job going to be cut?
I provide a service to Canadians. An important service. Now, I could tell you all about it, however, that could impact my job security. For example, did you know that currently the government is working on taking away my right to file a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission? So because I work for the Canadian government, I do not have the same rights that other Canadian’s do? Wait a minute, that doesn’t seem right.
I took a job with the organization that I did because I am proud to be Canadian. I still am. I’ve been here for over 10 years and I have hundreds of hours of sick leave that I have accumulated during that time, but then I hear that all public service employees are abusing it. If I have hundreds of hours––that I’ve earned––available to me in case something happened (ex: broken leg, car accident, disease), would it be fair to say that other public service employees have hundreds of hours too? Actually, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a study that directly contradicts the “information” that was forwarded by the government. So again, I ask, if I have hundreds of hours, how can every single public service employee be abusing it? The answer is they are not.
Now, I’m not going to give statistics, and I’m not going to ask you to spend hours researching all of what I said. I’m asking you to talk to your neighbor, your family members, your co-workers, talk to your Parks Canada employees, your Canada Post delivery person, your firemen and women, your RCMP detachment clerk, your passport clerk employee––ask them what they do. Find out for yourself if their service is valuable to you, and thank them.
It is public service week, and we do want to feel valued and appreciated for all that we do––just like any other worker. Make someone’s day, say thank you.
– Deborah Wiens, Edmonton
The federal government used to take pride in being known as an equal opportunities employer, but with how they are treating their employees with disabilities you would never know it.
On May 20 employees with disabilities at the Canada Revenue Agency were told that the CRA would no longer pay for their parking. It seems the government had a change of heart. Subsidised parking was provided for persons with mobility issues to increase the accessibility of government offices for their workers. Instead the government decided it needed to save money at the expense of its most vulnerable employees.
While the decision affects employees across Canada, it is far more acute here in Calgary with the high cost of parking. Each employee at the Harry Hays who currently has a disability space was told that in order to retain their spot they would need to pay $592/month. Needless to say this has left them scrambling to find other options.
If the Government of Canada really wishes to retain its title as en equal opportunity employer, it should be looking to remove barriers to employment not create new ones.
– David Fandrich, Calgary