Rapid response

Last week, we reported the Campbell administration is projecting demographic forces will shrink the bureaucracy by 30 to 57 percent over the next ten years. In response, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union issued a news release stating, "the BC Liberal government is planning to reduce the public service by up to 57 percent over the next 10 years." And that news release prompted this response from the premier's deputy minister Jessica McDonald: "I want to clarify unequivocally that this information is absolutely untrue - there are no such plans," she wrote in a Saturday morning email to civil servants.

"As I have stated to you in previous communications, we face a significant demographic challenge inside our workforce as many of us age and plan to retire. Our most conservative scenario shows that the BC Public Service will be at least 30 per cent smaller within the next decade," she continued.

Nevertheless, according to Ms. McDonald, "The current economic situation has also placed pressure on our workforce and, as I have stated before, our projections show that any layoffs that ultimately result from this pressure will be limited to less than 5 per cent of our organization."

The following is a complete copy of that email.

***

From: McDonald, Jessica
Sent: Sat May 09 10:17:11 2009
Subject: A Message from Jessica McDonald

Many of you may have seen or heard media reports Friday afternoon and evening indicating that there are plans underway inside government to cut the public service by up to 57 per cent. These reports stemmed from a news release to this effect issued by another organization.

I want to clarify unequivocally that this information is absolutely untrue - there are no such plans.

As I have stated to you in previous communications, we face a significant demographic challenge inside our workforce as many of us age and plan to retire. Our most conservative scenario shows that the BC Public Service will be at least 30 per cent smaller within the next decade. Responding to that challenge has been the focus of our Corporate Human Resource Plan, Being the Best, since we released the first edition three years ago.

The current economic situation has also placed pressure on our workforce and, as I have stated before, our projections show that any layoffs that ultimately result from this pressure will be limited to less than 5 per cent of our organization. Please refer to my previous communications for more information on this. In addition to the actions taken under Being the Best, the Public Service Transformation Fund was created to help retain staff as well as support projects that will help us prepare for the inevitability of a smaller workforce in the years ahead.

During the provincial election, it is important for the BC Public Service to separate itself from the debate around various issues. Inside our organization, however, you should always expect to be able to rely on direct, accurate information relating to your job and this time is no different.

As always, I thank you for your continued professionalism and commitment to serving the people of our province.

Jessica McDonald
Deputy Minister to the Premier and
Head of the BC Public Service

2 Comments

Interesting about-face by McDonald. in one sentence, she says that there is no plan to cut public services by up to 57% (even though her own planning document says that is the case).

Then in the next paragraph she says that "the BC Public Service will be at least 30 per cent smaller within the next decade." Get that? At least 30 per cent smaller.

These BC Liberals are clever. They produce a 'demographic survey' which says that with attirtion and retirement etc, the public service will be up to 57 per cent smaller.

Then they establish a $75 million 'transition fund' to address the issue, and priduce a planning document that focuses almost exclusively on strategic outcomes that mandate providing government services with fewer employees.

And nowhere do we see any evidence of a comprehensive recruitment campaign to ensure there are workers to fill those jobs. And at the same time, they put a hiring freeze on the public service, and have refused to fill vacancies for some time.

The BCGEU has it right when they say that there are a million skilled immigrants that have applied to live and work in Canada. Yet this government's plan mention nothing about those options.

Ms. McDonald and Gordon Campbell have some questions to answer -- do they plan another massive privatization scheme to provide the services now performed by government employees, or do they plan a wholesale elimination of a full range of services to the public, to achieve their goals?

nope, no plans to cut 30-57%, just planning for a 30-57% smaller civil service. You see the difference don't you! Read their being the best plan. lays it all out there pretty plain. They think they will lose too many to the private sector on top of retirements. The top reason why people leave according to being the best? Salary. Yet civil servants will get no pay raise this round? Nurses get labour market adjustments to address recruitment and retention, nothing for the civil service facing a looming recruitment and retention crisis, again according to their own plan. Hard to say that you are not planning cuts when you are failing to address the main reason people leave.

All I hope for is a new government that will realize that we already have the second leanest civil service in Canada and cutting another 30%, let alone 57% is just not possible.

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