Labour Views – August 19th, 2015

Written by Jack Bourassa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice President, North (REVP North)

Canada is slowly bleeding to death from a thousand cuts to public services. The Harper Conservative’s ideal vision of the country is devoid of the important programs we rely on, owned by foreign companies and unable to take care of its own citizens.

Canada would merely be a husk of our once beautiful nation.

With Harper at the helm, our government has slashed support to our brave Veterans, gutted employment insurance, vacated search and rescue bases, ignored environmental protections, food safety and border security.

The fight to defend public services isn’t simply a battle for labour unions, but instead a war all Canadians must wage if we wish to once again be among the top nations in the world.

Canadian Forces Veterans have given everything they have for our country, and yet the Conservative government now wants to simply brush them under the rug. Under Harper, Canada’s services to veterans are under attack. The Conservatives have cut over $113 million from the Veterans Affairs budget, closing nine offices and slashing front-line positions. Veterans rely on these offices for counseling, to reintegrate into society after seeing the horrors of war and to receive financial support for their families.

They must not be forgotten.

On the environmental front, Harper has fared no better.

Our fair country’s environmental protection services are being cut faster than ever before – a foolhardy move that contradicts increasing threats of climate change and pollution. In the North, and the rest of Canada, protections have been stripped for 99% of our lakes and rivers, paving the way for big corporations to reap the benefits of our natural resources unchecked. About 1/3 of the staff tasked with protecting species at risk have been let go, along with more than $100 million in cuts from water protection.

Times are also getting harder for Canadians looking for work. Because of changes by the Harper government, thousands of Canadians who paid Employment Insurance are being cut off from benefits, affecting thousands of communities. Since 2012, more than 60% of Canada’s unemployed aren’t getting EI benefits, a reality we haven’t seen for forty years.

And what if you’re lost at sea?

Tough luck. Canada’s public search and rescue services are crumbling. More than 300 full-time Coast Guard jobs have been cut, and the Conservatives have closed search and rescue stations in St Johns, NL and Kitsilano, B.C.

Canadians are now more in danger than ever before.

When it comes to border security, the government is going in the wrong direction. Conservatives plan to eliminate 1,100 Canadian Borders Services Agency positions by 2017, despite the fact that agents are stopping more drugs and illegal weapons from entering the country than ever before.

What about the food that we pick up from the grocery store? More and more, cuts to programs that handle inspections of food packaging and production facilities are putting Canadians at risk. Since 2011, food inspection services have been cut by nearly 15%, totalling budgetary cuts of $84.9 million.

Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

As the federal election dawns, it’s crucial for Canadians to examine the platforms of all candidates and vote for a government that improves lives and protects its citizens.