Cutting public service jobs not the answer

Posted April 17, 2012

The Ghiz government cuts resulting in the immediate loss of three hundred public service employees will have a detrimental effect on services that Islanders depend on every day. The province plans to eliminate hundreds of more positions through attrition over the next few years which will place even more stress on essential services and workers who are already working to capacity to deliver them.

Meanwhile‚ the government’s strategy to prop up the private sector as a “saviour” in so called tough times will do little to save the current administration from their own fiscal mismanagement. Let’s face it‚ the current administration does not accept any responsibility for their inability to balance the books. They continually blame the recession of 2008 and adjustments to federal transfer payment increases that don’t come into effect until 2017-18. This is not how a responsible government acts.

The recession ended in the summer of 2009 – two and a half years ago. It is true that PEI was affected‚ however‚ the provincial economy itself did not enter recession. Provincial gross domestic product (GDP) increased year over year from $4.3 billion in 2007 to $5 billion in 2011. Government revenue also followed suit with an increase of over $360 million since the current administration came to power in 2007. Our economy is outpacing all of the other Atlantic provinces with an expected growth rate of 2.5% this year. PEI is third in the nation behind only resource rich Alberta and Saskatchewan according to the TD bank’s new provincial economic outlook.

We can afford to invest in public services and the workers delivering those services. Firing government employees will not correct poor management of government spending. For example, the province has lost millions of dollars in bad loans and grants to private industry on Prince Edward Island. We are all aware of the countless millions that will never be recovered through Ocean Choice‚ Homburg‚ Food Trust and the list grows day by day. Government should create a level playing field for business in PEI so that it can thrive. Providing millions to corporate friends is not the way to achieve fairness. Let banks take care of the business loans. The province’s priority is providing top notch public services like health care‚ education‚ safe roads and a healthy environment. This means investing in public services and the Islanders who provide them.

Shelley Ward‚

President‚ PEI Union of Public Sector Employees