OTTAWA, March 19, 2019 -- Budget 2019 makes a significant investment in fixing the problems of the current Phoenix pay system, but falls short in announcing new funding for the government’s replacement, says the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).
“Despite a commitment in the Budget to replace Phoenix, the absence of any major funding to ensure it happens without delay is a disappointment to our members,” says PIPSC President Debi Daviau. “Funds to help employees with their pay problems are welcome but provide only a short-term plan to deal with what remains a three-year-old crisis. Our members need to know there is light at the end of this nightmarish tunnel. The government is still paying for the mistakes of the past rather than investing in a fix for the future.”
In its final Budget before the next election, the federal government has also left undone much of the job of restoring the public service to levels that would ensure tax fairness and adequate investment in public science.
While the Budget invests an additional $77 million a year in the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) to, among other things, combat tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, the Agency’s budget remains almost $500 million less than in 2012. “The Budget’s investment at the CRA will not go far to address much-needed training and technological improvements to catch offshore tax cheats and enforce tax fairness,” says Daviau.
The government deserves praise for replenishing the ranks of federal scientists, engineers and researchers over the past three years – 1,500 of which positions had been lost due to cuts under the former government. But actual spending – in particular, on government R&D – is lower today than it was under the Harper government. “Canada needs more, not less, federal government science and we are very disappointed that this budget makes little investment in government research and development,” said Daviau.
With collective bargaining underway and many public servants still stung by Phoenix and the impacts of Harper-era budget cuts, the government needs to do better to ensure the public service is restored and that our members’ demands for better pay protections, improved family leave and stronger safeguards against workplace harassment are among its own priorities. The current budget leaves a lot to be desired.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents approximately 60,000 public service professionals across Canada, most of them employed by the federal government.