Workers worry N.S. tech outsourcing may spread
Provincial information technology workers say they're worried a proposed outsourcing of payroll jobs will spread to other public sector jobs within the government.
Robert Jeans, a technical support worker with the Capital District Health Authority, said he's watching to see whether the provincial government decides to outsource the SAP information management system used for payroll, purchasing and human resources.
"The deal that's pending for the SAP system, we're concerned that this could be the thin edge of the wedge," Jeans told CBC News.
"We're concerned that such an initiative will migrate throughout the province, throughout the provincial government and that there will be similar arrangements for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, health care with patient information, Department of Community Services."
Last month, 110 public sector workers who manage human resources, payroll and purchasing throughout the provincial government were told their jobs may be privatized.
The NDP government will decide in the next month whether to accept an offer from a multinational information technology firm to take over the SAP system — a deal that is worth approximately $100 million, according to the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union.
The unidentified multinational company has promised to open a global delivery centre in Halifax — with a satellite office in Sydney — if the provincial government hires it.
"Everybody who gets oursourced to that company is going to be earning 30 per cent less, with many fewer benefits," said Susan Doyle, a technical support worker with the Capital District Health Authority.
"I'm not sure how that is a good economic development policy."
Kevin Quigley, the director of Dalhousie University's School of Public Administration, cautioned the scheme could save money but could also create a brain drain.
"The risk there is that you've outsourced everything, you've outsourced your capacity and your intelligence from within your organization in terms of managing your technology and your software and you don't know how to run it anymore," he said Wednesday.
"You're entirely dependent on this external source."
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman with the Halifax Regional Municipality said the city is also reviewing its SAP system. A report including recommendations on the future of the SAP system will be presented to the Audit and Finance Standing Committee on Oct. 17.