Friday, April 27, 2012

City shouldn’t be singled out for job cuts



26 Apr 2012 05:34PM

Why is Fredericton being singled out for provincial government job cuts?

Figures made public this week reveal that nearly half of the 613 civil service jobs eliminated last year came from Fredericton.

Since this is New Brunswick’s capital city and no heavy industry exists here — such as in other areas of the province — government jobs are Fredericton’s bread and butter.

To single out this city for the vast majority of cuts is unjust.

Where are Fredericton’s Tory MLAs and why are they not speaking out?

This should be a high priority for them, considering they were elected by residents of this area to serve citizens and, presumably, to protect our interests.

Mayor Brad Woodside, currently engaged in a battle to win another term in office, believes the city is being unfairly singled out for civil service job cuts. He said an analysis of the province’s workforce profile documents for 2010-11 shows more jobs were cut in Fredericton than in Saint John and Moncton combined.

According to those figures, nearly 46 per cent of the 613 civil service jobs eliminated in 2011 came from Fredericton, even though only 25.5 per cent of civil service jobs were located in the capital at the beginning of 2011.

Fredericton was home to 45.84 per cent of the eliminated jobs in 2011, whereas Saint John had 17.13 per cent and Moncton had 16.15 per cent, the 2011 workforce document shows.

The provincial government has said more civil service job reductions are coming in 2012, but it hasn’t said how many.

The mayor said he understands the need by the province to trim its deficit but wonders why everyone is not feeling the pain.

It’s a legitimate question that deserves an answer.

Mayor Woodside’s competition in the yet to be decided 2012 mayor’s race, Matthew Hayes, agrees that Fredericton isn’t being treated fairly by the province.

Mr. Hayes said one of the reasons New Brunswick is in a bad fiscal situation is the provincial government failed to restore tax levels to the 2008 level.

“The top 1 1/2 per cent of the provincial population was going to receive almost 20 per cent of the tax cut,” he said.

“That’s simply not fair.”

Civil servants are a vital part of Fredericton’s economy.

The province owes Fredericton an explanation as to why there’s such a difference in the figures and why they are so squarely unfavourable to this city.

It’s important these questions be answered as soon as possible so some kind of strategy can be created to prevent it from happening again.

In the meantime, it’s time for Fredericton’s MLAs to be more visible on this issue.

Regardless of the need for restraint in tough economic times, voters have long memories and it’s unlikely they’ll forget being ignored when support is needed the most.

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