Letter to Premier & MLA

Cuts to public services hurt Nova Scotians and will only make things worse.

DIANA WHALEN “Our most strategic investment is people,” Minister of Finance, Diana Whalen, Budget Address, April 9, 2015. Ms Whalen said this as she announced the cuts to 320 full-time positions in the Civil Service and the elimination of the entire Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

NSGEU’s press release on April 9 reads: “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.

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.

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. 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.

With the creation of a new Department of Business, the government is also realigning and restructuring government to facilitate the privatization of our public services. Currently, the Civil Service has only been filling half the vacancies, leaving fewer workers to do more work and the cuts have already begun.

Pre-budget timeline:

  • January – government cut child welfare services in Guysborough and Barrington. They laid off five members working in child welfare services in Barrington and six in Guysborough (one of the workers in Guysborough is an Income Assistance Caseworker). This followed on the heels of the closure of the Sheet Harbour Community Services Office.
  • February – government announced it was cutting 58 front line positions in parks and in Visitor Information Centres (VICs) and closing two VICs in Digby and Pictou devastating many rural communities. Their plans are to replace people with machines.
  • March – government announces the privatization of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency. They also announced their intention to privatize three registries in Service Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotians want programs to be there when they need them and they need them more now than ever. Unemployment is high and families are struggling. Now is not the time to cut programs and jobs.

McNeil and his government are claiming that reducing the size of the Civil Service will help them decrease the deficit. This will not work. Cuts to programs and services will hurt Nova Scotians and will only make the deficit worse.

We have a twin-engine economy. A private sector engine and a public sector engine. the private sector engine is at half-throttle right now. Cutting back the public sector engine at the same time will slow the economy down even more. The public sector plays an important stabilizing role in the economy.

There are a few specific steps the government must take to stimulate the economy: be an employer of good-paying jobs; invest in high quality public services that protect and empower families;  and invest in new infrastructure projects that will create jobs, repair our crumbling infrastructure and modernize our economy.

Please take this opportunity to write a letter to the Premier and copy your MLA.

Some talking points/tips for your letter:

  • You can speak from the heart and tell the Premier not to cut public services with your own personal example or story.
  • Have you ever needed a public service? Why was it important that it was there for you?
  • Do you know someone who works in government? Perhaps in forestry, transportation, Access Nova Scotia, tourism, fisheries, museums, parks, or other areas? Why is their job important to all Nova Scotians? 
  • You can encourage the Premier to strengthen, not cut these services. 
  • You can let him know that cutting jobs and public services give people, especially young people, reasons to leave and move out west. Good jobs are what we need – especially in rural communities. 
  • You can question the savings government has said they would achieve with cuts to front line staff. A loss of employment in a community hurts local businesses and the local economy.
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