OTTAWA The federal government will spend at least $850 millionthis fiscal year on severance payments owed to federal employees,including thousands of civil servants losing their jobs due tobillions of dollars in budget cuts. The Conservative government tabled $2.3 billion worth ofsupplementary spending estimates Thursday for the 2012-13 fiscalyear, and the biggest expenditure is $850 million in new spendingto cover severance payments to federal public servants. The new cash is on top of $600 million already requested by thefederal government to cover "paylist requirements" suchas "entitlements on cessation of service or employment,"as well as parental and maternity benefits and other costs.Combined, the government's paylist requirements so far in 2012-13,including severance, total $1.45 billion. "Funding will be used to reimburse departments, agencies andCrown corporations for severance pay benefits this fiscalyear," the supplementary estimates say, in reference to the$850 million in new funding. The Harper government announced in its March budget that 19,200federal jobs will be eliminated over the next three years,including about 600 executive positions. |
Since then, federal departments have delivered more than 18,000notices to employees warning them they could lose their jobs, andthat number will only continue to rise in the coming months. Treasury Board president Tony Clement said Thursday the eye-poppingpayout is what government expected due to the mass layoffsannounced in the budget. "That's obviously resulting from obviously the decisions thatwere made in the budget," Clement told reporters on ParliamentHill. He couldn't say, however, whether more cash will be needed in thecoming months and years to cover the severances and other federalpayouts associated with the budget cuts.
"I really don't want to speculate, but it's an accurate numberfor where we are in the coming year," he added. Opposition parties say they believe the actual taxpayer-funded tabto cover federal severance payments could be much higher than $850million, once previously announced spending reductions are combinedwith the most recent budget cuts. Based on federal reports tabled last week in Parliament, 10,400full-time positions will disappear over the next three years, ontop of the 19,200 layoffs announced in the budget, according to newcalculations by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Thatwould mean departments are cutting 29,600 jobs between now and2015. "The numbers are growing," said interim Liberal leaderBob Rae.
Because the job loss total could be larger than many initiallybelieved, the total tab to cover severance payments "could bemuch higher" than $850 million, Rae said. Twitter.com/jasonfekete.
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