Nfld. & Labrador

Ross Wiseman: 1,420 jobs to be removed from public service by 2020

Finance Minister Ross Wiseman says Newfoundland and Labrador will remove 1,420 positions in the public service in a five-year attrition plan.
Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Ross Wiseman says government will remove 1,420 positions in the public service in a five-year attrition plan 3:54

Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Ross Wiseman says government will remove 1,420 positions in the public service in a five-year attrition plan.

Wiseman made the announcement Monday at Confederation Building in St. John's, three days before he brings down this year's budget. 

A total of 435 positions will be removed from core government departments, at 87 positions each year through the five years.

According to Wiseman, those job cuts will save government $300 million by 2020. 

Wiseman said eight out of every 10 employees who retired in those five years will be replaced, while the other two positions will be removed.

However, while government will be cutting those positions through attrition, Wiseman said government can't entirely rule out layoffs.

"We believe that all of these numbers can be achieved through attrition, but as we adjust some of our work programs and services there may be some other impacts, but they'll be minimal," said Wiseman.

"We believe this is achievable through attrition and I'm just being cautious that I'm not misquoted as providing 100 per cent and guaranteeing that there won't be a layoff in the public service. That would be pretty reckless of me to do that."

No retirement incentives

According to Wiseman, there are 9,000 public service employees eligible for retirement. However, there will be no incentive plans to encourage older workers to leave.

"Financial incentives, they've been tried in the past and sometimes they've had some success but more frequent than not they've not had the desired result," he said.

"We believe this time with a more planned approach and more advanced planning — we've not talked about a five-year [human resources] plan before so this is the first time we've looked at a process such as this."

He added a "significant number" of the public service is over the age of 50, and there will be a big portion of the workforce eligible for retirement through the five years.

Wiseman added the cuts will be made in a phased and gradual approach to avoid a shock to the economy.

Wiseman said government wants to ensure the services provided by the public service are still good quality for the people, while keeping well-trained and capable staff.

According to Wiseman, the attrition plan will include providing department with new work plans to ensure services remain at the same standard.

Wiseman has long said that government will use various tactics, including raising revenues and cutting spending, to deal with a mounting deficit. 

Wiseman will bring down the full provincial budget on Thursday. 

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