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NEWS: DFO scientists bracing for cuts today

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “About 400 Fisheries and Oceans employees across Canada are to receive letters from managers Monday informing them their jobs will be affected as the department rolls out reductions from last year’s strategic review. …More than 200 of those receiving notices are biologists and other scientists and the vast majority work outside Ottawa in areas of ocean management, fish habitat management, hydrography and aquaculture. Another 39 positions are being cut from the coast guard following a re-organization. …Officials from one of the unions representing workers say they are braced for between 150 and 280 jobs to permanently disappear.”

During the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency hearings on the proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake, Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials informed the Panel that the project failed to meet the basic requirements of its ‘no net loss’ policy for the destruction of fish habitat. They highlighted several risks with Taseko Mines Ltd’s plan to construct a replacement fish reservoir (’Prosperity Lake’), and stated that even if successful, this reservoir would not come close to replacing the highly productive fish habitat that would be destroyed by the project, including Fish Lake, Little Fish Lake and associated streams. This information was undoubtedly critical in the CEAA recommendation to reject the mine. That agency itself is now also facing a cut of 1/3 of its staff and ongoing ‘streamlining’ measures, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12344.

Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, (says), “The cuts are going to be followed shortly by more cuts after the budget. Tell me, how a science-based department survives with a cut of a couple of hundred scientists. How can the department continue to do what it is supposed to do. It has to give somewhere. You can’t keep cutting, cutting, cutting.”

In early-December, Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page stated that roughly 6,000 federal public servants could receive pink slips over the next three years. Additionally, the Harper government says it anticipates savings through ‘attrition’ with as many as 80,000 public servants retiring within the next five to seven years.

For Council of Canadians analysis on the Harper government’s austerity agenda – which includes volunteers replacing public servants – please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12253.