Budget 2012 clearly expressed the Conservatives’ desire to eliminate 19,200 positions within the Canadian Public Service. Although attrition (retirements) are expected to lower this number to 12,000, several temporary positions will most likely be renewed and many departments are still eliminating positions as they complete their strategic operational review. At the same time, many individuals who have been close to been retirement have been waiting for this opportunity to take advantage of a leaving package. Also, several branches within departments have predicted these cuts and have not back-filled positions over the past fiscal year.
Unfortunately, the majority of the cuts are expected to happen in the National Capital Region (NCR), over the next 3 years. The budget cuts depicted in Chapter 5 of Budget 2012 are a reflection of the Deficit Reduction Action Plan exercise that departments were asked to perform last year. The reductions to these departments will play a strong role in their staffing capacity and their ability to maintain their workforce. In the Government of Canada, employees’ rights due to adjustments to the workforce are outlined under the Workforce Adjustment Directive.
The Workforce Adjustment Directive is a component that makes a part of most collective agreements of employees within the Canadian Public Service ( excluding executive positions that are covered under another measure). The directive was created to provide indeterminate public servants who are affected by changes in the workplace, alternatives when their job has been “surplused” (no longer needed).
Workforce Adjustment Agreements (WFA) aim to provide a continuous employment in the Canadian Government. It also aims to ensure that whenever it is possible, indeterminate public servants that are “affected” (may lose their jobs) and surplused are given every available opportunity to continue their career with the Government of Canada.
WFA provides the employers with two categories for which an “surplused” public servant may be placed:
1) A “surplused” employee with a reasonable job offer – This happens when an employee is in a Workforce Adjustment Situation and the department can provide a reasonable job offer (note that the job offer may not be in the
same job category or in the same location). If the employee accepts a position at a lower level their salary is protected until they accept or are given a position in which the maximum rate of pay matches the rate of pay in
the position that they were in before being “surplused”. NOTE that an employee who does not accept a reasonable job offer can be laid-off within six months of the letter declaring him/her “surplused”.
2) A “surplused” employee who is accorded an “opting period” (usually 120 days) and the choice between three options (available to most occupational groups):
- Option A: A 12-month surplus period in which the public servant attempts to obtain another position within the Canadian public service;
- Option B: An offer of a transition support measure (TSM), which is a lump-sum payment related to years of service in the Government of Canada; or,
- Option C: An offer of a sum equivalent to the TSM, plus an education allowance ( up to $11 000 within two years).
Within the “options” there is also a possibility of “alternation”: In order to avoid involuntary departures, alternation (or the exchange of positions) was added to the Workforce Adjustment Directive. By using the alternation process, an opting employee can avoid being laid off if the employee can find a person who occupies a secure position and who is prepared to leave the public service.
It is important to note the following: An “affected” employee is not necessarily a “surplused” employee.
Affected = A public servant may lose their job because (usually) their directorate will need to eliminate positions in the near future.
Surplused = A public servant’s position is no longer needed. This is when a job position will be eliminated and the individual will need to decide between looking for another
position within the Government of Canada or leaving the Canadian Public Service.