Federal spending cuts disproportionately focused on services: analysis

28,700 federal public service jobs to be cut by 2016
April 8, 2013

OTTAWA—Despite assurances by the federal government that spending cuts would target the “back office” and avoid cuts to services, a new analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds spending cuts have disproportionately focused on service delivery.

The analysis, by CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald, examines over 180 departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities in order to estimate employment cuts down to the program level and determine where federal spending cuts hit the hardest.

“Cuts within large federal departments are not coming from the ‘back office.’ Instead, most of the job cuts in big departments are coming from programs that deliver services to Canadians,” says Macdonald.

According to the analysis, the total number of federal public service jobs cut over the entire austerity period, from March 2012 to March 2016, will be 28,700. By 2016, the total number of people working for the federal government will have fallen by 8%, almost double the 4.8% figure reported in Budget 2012.

 “Human Resources and Skills Development Canada will experience the largest loss of positions, totaling over 5,700 by 2016. While HRSDC is a large department, this cut will reduce the department’s workforce by 24%,” says Macdonald. “At the program level, the Social Development program supporting homelessness initiatives will suffer a 62% cut to its staff.”

While National Defence and the Canada Revenue Agency are scheduled to cut 3,577 and 2,491 positions respectively, the proportional impact of those cuts represent a relatively smaller 4% and 6% drop, respectively.

Proportionally, Statistics Canada will be the hardest hit of the larger federal departments and lose over one-third (35%) of their staff. Veterans Affairs is scheduled to eliminate almost one-quarter of its staff (24%). Both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will lose one in five of their employees.

“Veterans Affairs will be cutting a third of the staff to the program that supports disability, death, and financial benefits for veterans and 20% of the staff to Veterans Health Care,” says Macdonald.

“It is only after four austerity budgets that there are finally some answers about what services departments are going to cut. Unfortunately, those answers come far too late to decide whether cutting staffing for veterans health care, for instance, is worth doing in order to balance the budget a year or two early.”


The Fog Finally Clears: The job and services impact of federal austerity is available on the CCPA website: http://policyalternatives.ca.

For more information, contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.