The 2011 Budget

March 23, 2011

The Harper government tabled a 2011 budget that left observers wondering what it was really all about. CAPE President Claude Poirier met with media after the budget speech had been delivered and expressed his astonishment.“The Harper government has changed the manner in which Canadian governments present budgets,” said CAPE President Claude Poirier.“The 2011 budget hides more than it reveals. It is now an exercise of smoke and mirrors.”

There had been speculation that the government might implement a salary freeze on federal public service employees and that its pension plan could come under attack, neither of which was the case. The budget document does provide that the reduction in departmental operating budgets will continue.“The budget talks about reductions in operating budgets,” added Claude Poirier,“but does not address what this represents in relation to a reduction in services and how this reduction will hurt Canadians. This reduction will have a negative effect and will result in an increase in pressure on public service managers who are now mandated to manage the impossible and on their employees who will be required to do the impossible.”

Should this budget be adopted, there is no question that the public service will continue to experience a reduction in size and CAPE is concerned that this will result in the imposition of greater workloads for federal government employees, with the related stress and threats to work – life balance.

The budget included a clue to Treasury Board’s mandate at bargaining tables over the next round of bargaining: keep hacking away at severance pay on voluntary departures.“The government has indicated what it wants to accomplish at the bargaining table,” commented President Poirier.“Regardless, the rules of the game have not changed, and we will proceed to the bargaining table for each of our three bargaining units, and we continue to prepare for what promises to be a challenging round of bargaining.”

Two opposition parties have indicated that they cannot support this budget, The third has indicated that it cannot support it as it is. An election could be called in the very near future. Notwithstanding the election, CAPE will continue to prepare to return to the bargaining table for its three bargaining units.

During the election campaign, CAPE will seek the main political parties’ positions on a number of key issues that concern federal public service employees and will post these on its website for its members to consider before voting.