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DarkSky
08-04-2011, 12:52 AM
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1034331--700-environment-canada-jobs-on-the-chopping-block?bn=1
700 Environment Canada jobs on the chopping block
August 03, 2011

Bruce Campion-Smith

OTTAWA—Meteorologists, scientists, chemists and engineers are among more than 700 Environment Canada employees on the chopping block as the department launches sweeping cuts to cope with federal belt-tightening.

The shakeup could be a taste of further cuts in other departments to come as the Conservative government reins in spending to eliminate a $32 billion deficit.

The cuts represent 11 per cent of the workforce at Environment Canada, calling into question the department’s ability to carry on its mandate, said Bill Pynn, national president of the Union of Environment Workers, which represents 476 of the affected workers.

“It’s massive,” Pynn said, saying he can’t recall cuts of a similar scale in Ottawa in the last two decades.

“I think it speaks volumes about this government’s priority as it relates to the environment,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know how they’re going to manage this.”

Grim-faced union representatives were given official word of the looming cutbacks Wednesday as Environment Canada officials grapple with orders to trim spending.

“It’s certainly a sad day,” said Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents 227 of the affected workers.

Corbett said the job losses will badly hurt the ability of the science-based department to do its job on issues such as climate change, monitoring water and air quality and wildlife species.

But he highlighted the cut of 19 meteorologists — most of them in Ontario and the Prairies — at a time when concerns about extreme weather events are on the rise.

“We can all see the impact of freak weather when it happens,” Corbett said.

Corbett said he was surprised by the magnitude of the proposed reductions and is now trying to get details of the affected programs.

“I just didn’t think it would be in the hundreds. I just don’t think the department can continue to do its science with that magnitude of cuts,” he said.

A department spokesperson justified the reductions, saying the Conservatives received a “strong mandate” in the spring election to balance the budget by 2014-15.

“Environment Canada has taken a hard look at its spending to ensure the department is spending its resources on priorities like improving air quality and cleaner water for Canadians,” John Morris said in an email.

He said the department was eliminating 300 positions, rather than the more than 700 positions cited by the unions. Attrition will cover many of the losses, while others affected will get help to transition to new jobs.

“While difficult, this decision will allow our government to continue to invest in clear air and a healthier environment for Canadians,” Morris said, adding that the department has no fewer employees than when the Tories took office in 2006.

The list of those affected includes two biologists, seven chemists, 45 computer scientists, 37 engineers, 19 meteorologists and 92 physical scientists.

“We’re concerned from a science point of view . . . We need to know what the government is doing in terms of its program changes,” Corbett said.

The department cited “government-wide fiscal restraint” as the reason for the program cuts, according to a letter sent to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

“There will be an impact on the continuance of existing positions with Environment Canada,” the letter said.

The department expects the belt-tightening to continue for the “next couple of years.”

In the Wednesday meeting, senior managers bluntly admitted they didn’t have the funding to pay for all the employees now on the payroll, Pynn said.

“They don’t have the money . . . They’re reductions to meet salary levels,” Pynn said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about money.”

Employees working in jobs targeted for elimination will be notified in the coming days. Over the next three months Environment Canada will determine which employees will get new jobs and which ones will be deemed “surplus” and out of work.

DarkSky
08-04-2011, 01:03 AM
Very sad news. But with that being said, I'm all for governments being more financially responsible. It's time people come out of their dream world thinking all we have around us is produced by our taxes. Our current way of life is possible by borrowing money that has to be paid back, and hasn't been. Spending $32,000,000,000 per year more than we bring in is no way to sustain a country. Look at what the US just went through. And the more we borrow (mainly from China) the more those countries have control of our markets.

Sorry - I just wanted to state all that before someone replied thinking there's a magic pot in the sky where money comes from and pays for everything. :) Our current govt services are costing way more than what we actually pay for, and that just ends in disaster.

Still, my heart goes out to all those families who's lives have been turned upside down by the loss of their job. I know what it's like to lose a job because it no longer exists, and it isn't pleasant.

Derecho
08-04-2011, 01:05 AM
Are you kidding me? Earlier this year the EC job cut speculation said meteorologists wouldn't be affected, and then the $27million funding increase was implemented for the weather service. Now, they are cutting 19 meteorologists across the most vulnerable areas for extreme and deadly weather.

Wow, just wow. The MSC is already in dire straights due to the job and funding cuts within the last decade. Now it's only going to get worse.

DarkSky
08-04-2011, 01:10 AM
I say raise taxes to help keep those jobs. If I'm losing $200 per paycheck in tax, take another 5 bucks off everyone's checks and give it to EC. Hmm.. maybe place higher taxes on US-owned oil companies taking our oil out of Fort McMurray. That could sure pay for some nice services.

Before the gov cuts stuff they should poll the people asking if we're willing to pay taxes to pay for those services.

Derecho
08-04-2011, 01:19 AM
I say raise taxes to help keep those jobs. If I'm losing $200 per paycheck in tax, take another 5 bucks off everyone's checks and give it to EC. Hmm.. maybe place higher taxes on US-owned oil companies taking our oil out of Fort McMurray. That could sure pay for some nice services.

Before the gov cuts stuff they should poll the people asking if we're willing to pay taxes to pay for those services.

Public safety services shouldn't be priority for cuts because we're running a deficit. Meteorologists, medical services, firefighting, policing and emergency planning etc. Our gov't has always been quick to chop Environment Canada. I understand that extreme weather is few and far between here, but someday history is going to repeat itself with a major natural disaster.

FWIW, there are 120,000 people in this city and we still don't have a hospital. No one is providing funding. Just goes to show how it works in this country.

Raedwulf
08-04-2011, 08:00 AM
Very sad news. But with that being said, I'm all for governments being more financially responsible. It's time people come out of their dream world thinking all we have around us is produced by our taxes. Our current way of life is possible by borrowing money that has to be paid back, and hasn't been. Spending $32,000,000,000 per year more than we bring in is no way to sustain a country. Look at what the US just went through. And the more we borrow (mainly from China) the more those countries have control of our markets.

Sorry - I just wanted to state all that before someone replied thinking there's a magic pot in the sky where money comes from and pays for everything. :) Our current govt services are costing way more than what we actually pay for, and that just ends in disaster.

Still, my heart goes out to all those families who's lives have been turned upside down by the loss of their job. I know what it's like to lose a job because it no longer exists, and it isn't pleasant.

Indeed, but unless the system were complete redesigned there's no getting out of debt. Money is created by debt, and with having 'interest' on top of loans it's literally impossible to pay it off. The debt is perpetual and until the system is changed completely or we switch to something else the system will eventually collapse.

StormJunkie
08-04-2011, 08:14 AM
It looks to me that they are funding EC for better equipment and cutting back because of there being questionable stuff. I'm all for EC, but they do some pretty strange stuff. Also, I'm of the opinion that cutbacks on those studying Global Warming is a good call. There are too many of those people in the world.

Of course I understand that there is a definite need for meteorologists as well as to understand where the Earth's climate is heading so that we can better prepare for the change. But if the government thinks there needs to be cutbacks in this area, then there must be good reason. They have a much better picture of the country's financial situation than us.

Cutbacks suck, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, but the reality of the situation is that to bring our country into black without changing taxes again, there needs to be cuts in government spending. Also, bring the taxes up may seem like a good idea to some who are well off, but will really affect people who are in the lower social class (which in 2000 was 20% of the country).

Not to get off topic, but I think that these cutbacks are not the end of the world. I wish the families affected by this the best and pray they will be able to move on.

Smokin Joe
08-04-2011, 11:54 AM
I'm coming to the conclusion that there will have to be another F4 roll through a populated area and kill a bunch of people for there to be any weight given to severe weather tracking/alerts/safety/prevention etc. whatever you want to call it.

It would be interesting to follow this story but we wont see another article about this and it will be forgotten.

All it is is the gov't cutting whatever they think will be the least upsetting to the majority of voters, in order to be re-elected. They know the minority of people care about this type of thing until it effects them directly...so chances are these cuts will stay out of the public eye more than others, and upset less people.....usual political BS

DarkSky
08-04-2011, 08:26 PM
Public safety services shouldn't be priority for cuts because we're running a deficit. Meteorologists, medical services, firefighting, policing and emergency planning etc. Our gov't has always been quick to chop Environment Canada. I understand that extreme weather is few and far between here, but someday history is going to repeat itself with a major natural disaster.

FWIW, there are 120,000 people in this city and we still don't have a hospital. No one is providing funding. Just goes to show how it works in this country.

Yah really - we have 4 ! (just within city limits!) Granted, one is still under construction, and one will close when it's done, but I agree their money is misplaced.

'Still say we should raise taxes on imports - that would accomplish 2 things: force manufacturers to start building stuff inside the country again, and provide tax money to pay for the services that we're currently going into debt to run.

anyhoo.. what's done is done. The one good thing about jobs is they can be put back in the future. Hopefully this wont' be long term.

I feel sorry for the current government because they've got to make cuts which are necessary due to the overspending by previous governments.

Reffik
08-06-2011, 10:37 AM
I'm a civil engineer: Before I design storm sewers, ponds, dams, etc, I spend a lot of time looking over historic EC climate data (both the free data and the analyses they sell), and I talk to the Climate Service people often.

I've have noticed a downward trend in services since I started working ten years ago, and looking back further that has been the case for much longer. Met. stations and streamflow monitoring stations with 80+ years of record are shutting down for lack of funds, and those that remain are losing services (Try finding a good solar rad. station these days). The storm intensity-duration curves that we design to and that we can see are changing with the climate have not been updated in close to a decade.

I was in the process of setting up meeting with my MP to talk about this before the articles started coming out. It will be interesting to see if this changes anything.

Derecho
08-13-2011, 08:26 AM
I just emailed my MP asking them to at least oppose cutting meteorological positions within EC. This is the same MP who was thrilled to announce their plan to increase EC's budget to save the crumbling weather service.

Guess y'all could do the same and raise your voice. Just saying.

Reffik
08-13-2011, 04:27 PM
Good idea.

Members email addresses and phone numbers can be found below. Some of them are very good at responding to emails and messages, and it's really neat to hear back from them. Often the genuinely like hearing from people.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E

Meeting set up for Wednesday. I'm trying to decide which infrastructure/flooding photos to bring to make a good presentation. Black Creek@<hidden> Ave. in Toronto 2005 is a given.

Reffik
08-18-2011, 09:54 AM
I met with my MP yesterday: I made a short 15-min pitch about stormwater civil engineering and the importance of the EC Weather Office for that (as far ast he data they collect and the analysis they do). I finished by talking a bit about the historic trends at the weather office wrt stations being closed down, turnover at EC, and the need to improve abilities to save money (less flooding failures) in the future.

His general response was positive, but non-commital: He doesn't do the budget, he'd not been told about this concern before, he would send a request for information to find out more. I left him with two copies of the powerpoint presentation which he may or may not forward on to someone (a good result of this meeting for me would be a letter back from another MP who reads it).

One thing he did come back to several times in the discussion was that this was the first he had heard of the issue, and that if he heard from more people about this it would make a stronger case. Specifically, if I can get a national organization involved too, I could wrangle a meeting with higher ups (like say Peter Kent, though who knows how much say he has in the budget for the ministry he looks after). Going forward I'll probably do that, but I think there's still a payoff for people to talk to their own MPs as a first step.

http://i60.photobucket.com/albums/h35/manotick/PresentationCover.jpg

PS: I'll link to JPG copies of the presentation if anyone is interested: Let me know if you want any parts of it.

http://i60.photobucket.com/albums/h35/manotick/Presentation_17Aug2011/Slide1.jpg
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