Crash landings

Civil service jobs impacts will be announced after the budget is table on September 1, according to the premier's deputy minister. In an email sent to bureaucrat yesterday afternoon, Jessica McDonald stated those impacts will be "kept low and under the original projection of five per cent of our workforce." But the government isn't going to be giving departing civil servants a golden handshake. According to the email, "there are no plans to offer voluntary departure or early retirement programs." The following is a complete copy of that email.

From: McDonald, Jessica
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 3:31 PM
To: PREM BPS Staff excl WCAT; GOV All Core BC Government Staff
Subject: A Message from Jessica McDonald

Good afternoon.

Over the past number of months, I have written to you periodically to share updated information on budget pressures in the provincial government and related implications for the BC Public Service. As we approach tomorrow's Speech from the Throne and next week's Budget, I wanted to update you on where our planning stands.

Significant work has been underway for some time across ministries to reduce operating costs, re-think program delivery and produce new solutions for managing within limited budgets. Ministries have also been working diligently to map their current workforce to their salary budgets. As part of these efforts, a number of specific steps have been taken to avoid any unnecessary job loss as a result of budget pressures:

*Wherever possible, we have avoided filling vacancies created from retirements and resignations (attrition) and have reassigned staff to fill vacant positions. The resulting savings are being accounted for before any impact on employees is considered.

*Restrictions have been placed on any external hires while possible matches are explored within our existing ranks. The Opportunities and Skills Database was created as a new tool to ensure that all openings across ministries are first considered for internal placement. Recently, we have been reviewing every opportunity in the database corporately to ensure every possible match is identified. More than 100 matches have been made so far, allowing individuals to take on new roles and therefore reduce overall job losses.

*821 employees signed up for the Voluntary Reduced Workweek initiative, and all of the resulting $2 million in savings will be applied to help reduce job impacts.

*The senior executive ranks of government were reduced by 20 per cent, with a resulting savings of about $5 million. These funds have remained available for reallocation to other salary needs within ministries.

*The Public Service Transformation Fund was established to support strategic investments in key job opportunities and redesigning processes that help us to deliver services with fewer staff. These projects provide an opportunity for additional staff placements, which will also be offered this week.

As a result of these measures, I am able to confirm that our commitment to keep the impact of job losses low and under the original projection of five per cent of our workforce remains in place.

You may have heard of some layoffs and restructuring that have taken place within the Public Service Agency and the Public Affairs Bureau. Restructuring has taken place within those two agencies in order to address other priorities. I will communicate with you directly about any further specific job impacts that are anticipated following the tabling of the budget on September 1st.

As we approach that point, we continue reviewing ministry year-to-date spending, attrition projections, and available salary room. We will now also be moving to longer-term restrictions on any new external hires to continue to provide maximum flexibility for placements within our organization. That practice will remain in place until further notice.

I'd like to also reinforce two other important points. First, I want to reiterate that there are no plans to offer voluntary departure or early retirement programs. Second, as I have stated previously, the collective agreement currently in place has not been, and will not be, impacted.

My thanks to all those working so hard to manage not only the human resource pressures but also the broader budget challenges being tackled across government. These are uniquely difficult times, and in many ways it is times like these that demonstrate the great skill and talent of the professionals in the BC Public Service.

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