Critics decry job cuts at CFS St. John’s

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Military personnel will also be moved elsewhere

The federal NDP critic slammed the latest round of cuts at CFS St. John’s on Thursday, with a Department of National Defence (DND) spokesman saying local military positions will also be eliminated.

Photo of the Surgeon Lt.-Cmdr W. Anthony Paddon Building — the Canadian Forces Station (CFS) St. John’s headquarters on the corner of The Boulevard and Legion Road in Pleasantville on Thursday afternoon. Six federal government employees at the HQ received notices earlier this week their jobs will be affected at a future date. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

“I’m very disappointed to see them downsizing the workforce here at Canadian Forces Station

St. John’s,” said NDP member of Parliament Jack Harris on Thursday.

“I think it’s just responding to a demand by the government of the Conservatives to try to save money wherever they possibly, possibly can, regardless of the consequences. … I don’t think there’s a justification for it.”

Six Canadian Forces station employees — clerical and warehouse staff, and a vehicle mechanic — received notices Wednesday their jobs were being cut, said Jeannie Baldwin, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

“(Prime Minister Stephen) Harper doesn’t believe in a strong public service. He’s made that quite clear,” said Baldwin.

“We as Canadians depend on quality public services. It’s about our senior citizens, it’s about our veterans, it’s about making sure that food and the water we drink is safe. It’s about safe transportation. It’s about environment. — All those things are very critical to us as Canadians and this government is just eroding the very fabric that Canada was built on.”

The workers have been noted their jobs are no longer required, and they have two years to find a new job. They’ll work in the meantime while looking for another placement with the federal government in Newfoundland.

“(But) Federal government jobs within the Newfoundland region, they’re very scarce,” she said.

“We’ve been hit in the Newfoundland region with a lot of downsizing within the Newfoundland government.” If nothing is found, the employees will have to find work elsewhere.

Baldwin noted five food-service workers at the station were let go last fall, only to see the Department of National Defence contract out the work they had been doing.

“We know that when you contract out the work, it’s more expensive, and it should be kept in-house,” she said.

“This government has been gouging federal government jobs out of the Atlantic region, especially the Newfoundland region.”

Harris said the government continues to pursue expensive procurement plans, but basic services and jobs are being cut.

“They’re just being treated as if they don’t matter,” he said.

“I believe that Canadians are getting wise to the fact that this government doesn’t have concern for the stability of people’s lives, and is quite happy to see them in precarious situations, and this is an example of it.”

A request for an interview with a representative from the Department of National Defence was declined. An emailed statement from a department spokesman said consolidating CFS St. John’s into its new complex will help the department save money.

“The consolidation of CFS

St. John’s and its lodger units to the newly constructed DND complex will result in significant cost savings to taxpayers,” reads the email, which indicates another position will be cut, bringing the total civilian job cuts to seven in the next two years.

“In addition, 33 military positions will be reallocated and military members occupying the affected positions will be posted to other CAF locations,” says the email.

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Department of National Defence

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, Atlantic

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