ms. fresh fish

A p.s. for the PS
September 30, 2012, 9:13 pm
Filed under: events, ottawa

This was written by one of my (several) friends who lost/left their jobs as a result of the recent Government of Canada-wide cuts.

Today is my last day in the federal public service. For lack of a national newspaper column, I will share my thoughts on the matter here.

First and foremost, it is a myth that the best and the brightest aren’t attracted to careers in the public service. Over the last eight years I have worked with some of the most intelligent, most dedicated, most hard working people that I have met in any industry. In eight years I have met very few individuals who joined the public service for the regular hours and the pension (although there is nothing wrong with wanting either of those things.)

Teachers, nurses, bus drivers, policy analysts, program managers, administrative assistants, garbage collectors, paramedics and firefighters are just a few of the many faces of public employees. In the federal public service, we are working around the clock, overtime, and after hours to deliver on government priorities whether we agree with those priorities or not. It is a myth that public servants are lazy.

The media reaction to documents such as Ontario’s Sunshine List fosters resentment towards those who are successful within the public realm, as though professional salaries should be reserved only for the private sector.  Public servants are professionals. The issue is not that some people ‘still have’ defined benefit pension plans, the issue is how to ensure that all Canadians are secure in retirement. The issue is not that someone with ‘only a high school education’ can earn a good living as a public employee, the question is how to ensure that all Canadians have access to the education they need to succeed.

During the economic downturn, Employment Insurance processing times were dramatically improved to ensure that Canadians had access to EI benefits without undue delay. This was achieved by hiring more staff to process EI claims, and by the hard work of the people responsible for the program.  When your public services don’t work they way you want them to, don’t rush to assume that public servants are to blame. Question whether or not the services are adequately funded and staffed.

At the end of the day you can applaud the decision to cut civil servants because you believe in smaller government. I don’t begrudge the government’s decision to terminate my position – the government, like any employer, has the right to determine what size workforce is appropriate to meet its needs. But I do begrudge anyone who uses the notion of lazy bureaucrats to justify the cuts. I take issue with media, political and interest groups that use the term “bloated” civil service. Such words are deliberately hurtful towards hundreds of thousands of public employees, and serve to turn the public against itself.

Thanks to strong public sector unions – unions that are increasingly being undermined by elected officials – many public servants have generous compensation and benefits including severance. As someone who has benefitted from excellent working conditions in the public sector, I must ensure my consumer choices benefit other workers. I am thankful to all Canadians whose tax dollars contributed to my salary over the last decade and in turn I will endeavor to ensure that the money I spend goes to businesses that value people over profits.  We are, at the end of the day, all in this together. Rather than resenting each other and pushing each other down, let’s join hands and lift each other up.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nicely done.

Comment by Marianna Annadanna

Bravo! Beautifully put.

Comment by Jennifer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: