The 2015 federal budget is something of a mixed bag for ACFO and the members of the FI Community.

“While we’re relieved to see the end of the operating budget freeze that has hamstrung federal departments for the past few years, certain comments about the sick leave regime for federal public servants were a little concerning,” said Milt Isaacs, ACFO President.

The budget reiterates Treasury Board’s position related to sick leave but adds a worrying line about the employer’s willingness to “take the steps required” to impose their plan should an agreement not be reached.

“We’ll take them at face value when they say they intend to continue negotiating in good faith but it’s clear the deck is stacked in their favour when they use language like that,” said Isaacs.

The budget assumes a savings of $0.9 billion in 2015-16 based on the latest Treasury Board offer on sick leave being accepted as written. ACFO and Treasury Board bargaining teams are expected to meet for another round of talks next month.

Aside from the comments on sick leave, the budget notes that the operating freeze on federal departments will be lifted in 2016-17, though operational spending as a share of GDP will drop from 3.9 per cent in 2013-14 to 3.5 per cent by 2019-20, a record low. Increases in spending will be led by the Department of National Defence, which will receive an additional $11.8 billion over 10 years starting in 2017-18.

Beyond core public service issues, Isaacs was encouraged by the emphasis on combating tax avoidance by multinational companies.

“Tax avoidance is a major issue we’ve raised as part of our advocacy efforts both domestically and around the world. It’s a key part of the suite of fair tax policies we’ll be discussing at the Funding Democracy summit this summer,” said Isaacs.

“We’re encouraged to see the government expects to collect $831 million in otherwise lost revenue over the next five years and we hope this signals a willingness to explore other practical, fair measures that look at the revenue side of the ledger.”