“Cuts to public sector jobs released in today’s budget are a shameful attack on our valuable services and the frontline staff who deliver them,” says Joan Jessome, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU). “It is also the beginning of the sell-off of public assets into private hands.”
The Liberal government has completely eliminated the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism (ERDT), replacing it with a new Department of Business.
“Eliminating the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism is certainly an ironic move,” says Jessome, “when we have heard so much from reports like “One Nova Scotia” about the need to strengthen our rural economic development and tourism.”
Approximately 78 employees and members of the NSGEU, the majority who work in ERDT have been issued layoff notices. This includes 20 Service Nova Scotia employees who have the option of relocating with their jobs. These layoffs follow cuts to 58 much needed seasonal jobs in seven parks across the province and Visitor Information Centres in Pictou and Digby, and another 11 positions in child welfare services in the communities of Guysborough and Barrington.
“This budget is brutal,” says Jessome. “They are trying to balance their books on the backs of the public service and are decimating our communities across the province.”
Many communities will lose their frontline land registration services as the budget includes the consolidation of existing land registration offices into just five for the whole province and the creation of a new Land Services Branch. This is believed to be the first step in the government’s planned privatization of this registry.
In mid-March the government announced plans to pursue the privatization of three registries within Service Nova Scotia: the Registry of Joint Stocks; Registry of Motor Vehicles; and the NS Land Registry.
Cuts to services include closing seven remote rural courthouses including Port Hood, Guysborough, Baddeck, Lunenburg, Liverpool, Comeauville, and Barrington.
The NSGEU will be working with affected members to ensure their workplace rights are protected.