FREDERICTON – Despite the job cuts announced in the most recent budget, some say there’s more fat to trim from New Brunswick’s bloated civil service.
The loss of several hundred jobs will do little to improve New Brunswick’s standing when compared to the size of public services in other provinces, says Bobby O’Keefe of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
“There are not a whole lot of changes that happen when you only look at those 700 jobs,” he said.
The provincial budget included the loss of up to 700 positions within the public service. Government has said roughly 400 people will actually lose their jobs, as the other 300 positions are either currently vacant or are held by people about to retire.
The province has 47,000 public servants, which includes bureaucrats and health-care and education employees.
Figures from Statistics Canada for 2008 suggest New Brunswick has 9,600 public administration workers, or bureaucrats, within the public service or 12.85 per 1,000 people.
If the majority of the roughly 700 jobs cut are bureaucratic positions, that figure would drop to about 11.9 civil servants per 1,000 New Brunswickers.
When looking at the entire public service, including education and health workers, the cut would be less significant. New Brunswick has 89.95 public sector employees per 1,000 people.
Once the roughly 700 positions are eliminated, that figure would fall to about 89, said O’Keefe.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference,” he said.
Human Resources Minister Rick Brewer said it’s impossible to compare provinces as they include different types of employees within the public service.
For example, New Brunswick considers 1,200 community college workers public employees while Nova Scotia doesn’t, he said.
However, he reiterated government’s position that more cuts to the civil service will be announced next year.
“There will be more cuts,” he said, adding it’s too soon to saw how many employees will be impacted.
Government also has to be careful to not cut too many positions as New Brunswick is a rural province and people expect services close to their homes, he added.
However, O’Keefe said other provinces are also rural.
“When you consider which level of the public service is large in New Brunswick relative to Nova Scotia, it’s the higher level of the public service as opposed to the service delivery people who would be the people who are in the more rural areas.”