Thousands of federal public servants in Ottawa and other centres across the country will be entering a new period of anxiety as they start receiving letters this week telling them whether their positions within a certain department will be eliminated.

It's all part of the fallout from last week's federal budget. The Conservative government wants to cut 19,200 public service jobs by 2015.

The notification letters won't translate into lost employment for all who receive them.

"These letters will be informing them that their positions are gone. It does not mean that their jobs are gone, it just means that their positions are no longer there," the CBC's David McKie reported on CBC News Network.

"They will have the next several months, perhaps, to take advantage of what's called a workforce adjustment initiative, and this is an ability to maybe swap jobs with someone who is retiring or taking advantage of a buyout package. They might be able to retrain."

"It's not as if they're going to be shown the door tomorrow," McKie added, noting that the actual layoffs wouldn't take place until the summer.

The government is looking to cut just over five per cent of its discretionary spending over three years on direct services such as food inspection, marine search and safety rescue, and the issuing of insurance cheques. The numbers vary for other agencies and departments.

Union expects more job losses

Thursday's federal budget estimated the total job reductions likely to result at about 19,000 positions.

"The government says that when you take into account all the people who are going to retire, through attrition, that number is probably closer to 12,000," McKie said.

"The unions representing these workers say 'nonsense,' that if you take a look at the cuts that have been made since 2006, all the term and contract employees who are no longer working, the actual spending freezes that were in place since 2010, the cumulative effect of all of this is about 30,000 [positions]," McKie explained.

On Friday, Ottawa MP John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, said last week the National Capital Region can expect to lose about 4,800 public service jobs over a two- to three-year period, but union leaders say they expect the job losses to be much higher, closer to 12,000 positions.

About 130,000 federal civil servants work in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, with thousands more working term or contract positions.

With files from CBC's David McKie