Ottawa

Federal public service ranks in capital grow to highest level in 7 years

The number of federal civil servants employed in the national capital area is at its highest since 2010, when the previous Conservative government began slashing public service jobs.

Ottawa federal public service jobs rose by 9,000, while Gatineau saw increase of 5,000 jobs

Canadian Association of Professional Employees president Emmanuelle Tremblay said the government realizes it needed to bring back workers to fulfil their campaign promises. (Chloe Fedio/CBC)

The number of federal civil servants employed in the national capital area is at its highest since 2010, when the previous Conservative government began slashing public service jobs.

According to Statistics Canada, the total number of federal government employees working in the National Capital Region in 2016 jumped by 14,000 to 145,000, representing a 10.5 per cent increase over the previous year.

Ottawa saw an increase of 9,000 employees while the number working in Gatineau rose by 5,000.

Experts say the growth in employment numbers is directly tied to the Liberal government carrying out election promises to create new programs for Canadians.  

'A hyperactive government'

"This is a hyperactive government," said Emmanuelle Tremblay, president of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees. The union represents 13,000 federal workers including economists, translators and policy analysts.  

"After deep cuts into public services there has been a realization or a wake-up call, after two or three years of cuts you have departments waking up and realizing that you cannot function below the bare bones."

Stephen Harper's government slashed thousand of federal government jobs in the Ottawa area during the last few years of its 10-year mandate.

Tremblay cautions the apparent revival could be due to the temporary hiring last spring to carry out the federal census, as well as other non-permanent workers brought in to fix the trouble-plagued Phoenix pay system.

She said more civil servants are needed to carry out the Liberals' ambitious slate of new policies. Tremblay said she's hearing from members who say their workload has increased substantially. 

"[The Liberals] have committed to advancing on key policy deliverables, and for that you need people to do that," Tremblay said. "You need people to think them through, to analyze and come up with options and put forward the infrastructure to deliver on those."

Growth not sustainable, says prof

Political scientist Geneviè​ve Tellier, who teaches at the University of Ottawa, characterizes the increase as a natural swing of the pendulum after years of cuts to the civil service. But she cautions a double digit increase isn't sustainable.

"You cannot continue with a 10 per cent increase every year," Tellier said. "It's 14,000 new hires last year and the Conservatives cut about 19,000, so we're not very far from the level that we had before the Conservatives took power."

Tellier said the increase is likely good news for restaurants and other businesses in Ottawa and Gatineau that saw profits fall in the wake of public service layoffs.

Statistics Canada said the bulk in the hiring occurred in the fall of 2016 and was not related to the census.  

now