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The Honourable Jim Flaherty, PC, MP
Minister of Finance
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON – K1A 0G5
On behalf of the more than 3,800 Financial Officers in the federal public service, I urge you to reconsider plans to legislate and possibly roll back wages for public servants in the upcoming federal budget. As a Financial Officer myself I can certainly understand the pressure you are under to find cost savings in this era of forced fiscal restraint. However, the proposals floated at the end of last year to fix wages for the public service are short sighted.
The public service is facing a severe demographic crunch; we must make every effort to ensure it remains the employer of choice for the best and brightest Canadians. The negative publicity associated with rollbacks and wage controls – concocted outside of the bargaining process and imposed unilaterally – would do damage to this reputation at a time when competition for knowledge workers is fierce.
This is especially true for the FI Community of accountants and financial advisors which ACFO is proud to represent. The 2009 Salary Guide prepared by Robert Half International concluded that â€œthe public accounting sector, which will likely feel a significant impact from this burgeoning workforce trend, can be expected to be in a hiring mode for years to come.
The current collective agreement for the FI Community was negotiated and ratified by ACFO’s membership in good faith in June 2008 and was a result of remarkably open, innovative and professional bargaining with Treasury Board. In all, two thirds of federal public servants have a contract in place or are about to ratify tentative deals reached in good faith. Rolling back those contracts would do irreparable damage to the delicate relationship between the tens of thousands of public servants and their employer and undermine the bargaining process enshrined in the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
It is important to remember that while our interests are sometimes competing, the goal of the bargaining agents and the federal government is the same – creating a climate that attracts the best Canadians to the public service, encourages them to stay, and allows them to use their skills for the betterment of the country. I hope you agree that the damage to the public service as an institution associated with fixed wages and potential rollbacks far outweighs the possible short-term moderate fiscal relief.
Thank you for your time and consideration. You have a tough job ahead of you and I certainly appreciate that. But please don’t handicap the very institution that is in place to help you through it.
Milt Isaacs, CMA
President and Chair of the Board of Directors
Association of Canadian Financial Officers
/cc: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC, MP, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Vic Toews, PC, MP, President of the Treasury Board