Job cuts will have 'trickle-down effect,' says food sharing manager

The manager of the Community Food Sharing Association says job cuts in the higher ranks of the public service will mean fewer donations to community groups.

Provincial government announced hundreds of job cuts Wednesday

Eg Walters of the Community Food Sharing Association says the cuts will have far-ranging impacts. (CBC)

Though they focused on managers in Newfoundland and Labrador's civil service, Wednesday's job cuts will have an impact on people seeking help from community groups in the province, according to one charity manager.

Layoffs and cuts in the upper ranks of the public sector will inevitably lead to fewer donations to the province's food banks, hospitals and other charities, says Eg Walters, the general manager of the province's Community Food Sharing Association. 

"This is 287 families now that, you know, won't be donating to [charity]," he said Wednesday.

"Whether it be the Janeway, whether it be the cancer centre, whether it to be to Community Food Sharing, or whatever charity."

The provincial government announced Wednesday morning that nearly 300 jobs in the public sector will be eliminated, another step in the effort to wrangle the province's sizeable budget deficit.

About 200 people will be laid off as part of the move. Some 90 vacant positions won't be filled.

According to Alyse Stuart, the chair of the Common Front NL lobby group, that loss of work will also touch businesses around the province.

Alyse Stuart is the chair of Common Front NL, a lobby group comprised of labour organizations and other groups. (Alyse Stuart/Twitter)

"People with good jobs, that are local jobs, they go to local businesses and spend money on those local businesses," she said.

"Any job cut in a province that is really hurting with high unemployment rates, is going to have a ripple effect in your small businesses."

Stuart added that the loss of a high-paying job is even more pronounced in rural parts of the province.

Tough, but necessary: business groups

Wednesday's announcement drew praise from the province's business sector.

"As difficult as this is, this government had absolutely no choice. We simply can't afford to have the largest public service of any province in Canada," said Richard Alexander, head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council.

Richard Alexander is the head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers Council. (CBC)

The employers' council launched a campaign last year to advocate for layoffs in the public sector. Alexander said cuts are just one step the government needs to take to reduce the deficit.

"It's absolutely critical that they hit their deficit reduction targets through expenditure reductions," he said.

"If they don't do that, if they don't start hitting those targets, they're going to be back to taxpayers looking for more tax increases."

Dorothy Keating, chair of the St. John's Board of Trade, said it's always difficult when people lose their jobs.

"Our hearts go out to those that are impacted by the decision of the government, but it was absolutely a necessary decision that has to happen as part of the process to fiscal sustainability for our province."

And while Wednesday's cuts targeted only managers in core government services and not union jobs, NAPE president Jerry Earle said there will still be an impact in the broader public sector, especially if the consolidation of some departments means uprooting employees.

Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett announce cuts to the province's civil service Wednesday. (Philippe Grenier/CBC)

The lands branch of the Department of Municipal Affairs, for example, will now fall under the department of Fisheries and Lands Resources. The office will also move from St. John's to Corner Brook, affecting 30 positions.

"It's easy to say they'll still have a job, but the problem is that they could have kids in school, they may have a family home," said Earle. "We're in an economy now where you have difficulty selling homes, so even that is a negative impact on individuals."