According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, the Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer believes government departments are poised to eliminate another 8,900 jobs over the next three years. With the operating freeze remaining in place, federal managers are being left very little room to manoeuvre as they set their plans for the coming years.

What does this mean for collective bargaining? As the Citizen’s Kathryn May points out:

During a freeze, departments must absorb any wage increases and can’t rely on Treasury Board for funds to compensate for the extra costs of the wage settlements.

That puts unions in the unenviable position of negotiating a deal that could result in more job losses. The 17 unions have already lost bargaining clout under the new ground rules for collective bargaining that the government has implemented.

It didn’t have to be this way. As ACFO pointed out in its recent submission to the House Standing Committee on Finance, common sense tax policy changes could fill the government coffers without resorting to draconian cuts. And as May points out:

It is still unclear what impact the government’s cuts so far are having on the quality and level of some 400 programs and services.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has been wrangling with the government since the 2012 budget for data to get a handle on the nature of cuts, but has been blocked in trying to get a fuller picture. The PBO recently found that the performance of the government’s programs, and whether they were working as expected or not, had little bearing on the government’s decisions about what to cut.

As we head into this round of bargaining, ACFO is committed to securing the best deal possible for the FI Community. We’re using every tool at our disposal – policy recommendations, department-level discussions and the traditional bargaining tools – to ensure the conditions are in place to allow you to provide the quality services Canadians deserve and expect. But the deck is being increasingly stacked against us.

Now more than ever the FI Community must rally together and support one another in the workplace and at the bargaining table. Rest assured, our resolve has not weakened because we know the work you do matters to Canadians. You deserve to be treated fairly as a result.