During yesterday’s federal budget the Canadian Conservative party announced cuts to the public service that were lower than expected. Canada’s bloated bureaucracy got only a glancing blow, as total job losses are forecast at 19,200 although potentially with program expenditure cuts that could grow to 34,000. Although the size of the cuts is disappointing to some, what really disappoints me is how the government is tackling the reductions, which is through attrition.
Although the complex and red tape laden staffing process is slow, the Conservatives have had years to prepare for this eventuality. We all know of unproductive, incompetent public servants that have dragged the public service down for years, but most if not all of these will be untouched by the wave of reduction in the public service. First to go will be those about to retire, older public servants who have a lot of historical knowledge and who will leave a hole in programs and departments who have done a terrible job over the years in documenting process and knowledge management. Why should taxpayers hand severance packages to near retirees? Second to go will be extremely competent public servants who can easily get employment elsewhere and who will take this opportunity to take a nice fat package.
Left to hold the bag of delivering more with less will be some amazingly dedicated public servants and a rag-tag bunch of misfits and odds and ends who should have been terminated years ago by managers who were unwilling to do what had to be done.
It’s sad to see that a great opportunity to move the public service forward by removing incompetents and other blowhards has been missed and will only make the work of competent public servants harder. Shame on you Mr. Harper and your party for having not taken a more aggresive leadership stance.