Federal job cuts: Tracking the rollout

Which departments? Which regions? When? Here's what we know so far about the impact of the March 29 budget on federal government jobs.

Where the jobs now aren't in the aftermath of the March 29 federal budget

The federal government rollout of job cuts in the aftermath of the March 29 budget is complicated, making it difficult to keep track of how many and what jobs are affected, as well as when the layoffs take place. 

So far, the government and union numbers aren't always in sync.

The number of federal employees being notified they are "affected'' by the cuts sometimes exceeds the number of positions being eliminated in a specific department. Why? Consider this hypothetical situation: A group of six employees in the same role, in a department that wants to cut that group to four positions. Even though there are only two positions eliminated, all six employees may receive letters notifying them of a downsizing, and giving them their options: compete for the four positions, seek placement in current vacancies or take a severance package.

One federal department told CBC News that not only does the number of "affected" employees exceed total positions being cut, but the number of actual layoffs expected would only amount to about one-quarter of the positions cut, due to "natural attrition" (such as retirements and voluntary departures) or employees being placed elsewhere in the public service. Only time will tell if that scenario turns out to be accurate in a process that's expected to take months.

But for now, here are the latest numbers obtained by CBC News.

Downsizing by department

CBC News is tracking figures released by public-sector unions to identify which departments and agencies are affected and to what degree by these job reductions. (Note that these figures are changing frequently as more notifications are issued. Every department is making announcements and issuing notifications on its own timetable.) This list adds together affected employees reported by different public sector unions.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Assisted Reproductive Health Agency3
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency107

Canada Border Services Agency


Canada Revenue Agency1,232
Canada School of Public Service81

Canadian Food Inspection Agency


Canadian Heritage


Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat


Canadian International Development Agency


Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency3

Canadian Space Agency


Citizenship and Immigration


Correctional Services of Canada


Courts Administration Service2



Economic Development Agency - Quebec112
Economic Development Agency - Southern Ontario24

Environment Canada


Fisheries and Oceans (including Coast Guard)1,168**

Foreign Affairs and International Trade


Health Canada


Human Resources and Skills Development


Immigration and Refugee Board


Industry Canada


Infrastructure Canada29
Library and Archives Canada374
Lobbying Commissioner's Office2
National Research Council


Natural Resources


Northern Economic Development Agency3
Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying2
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages4
Parks Canada1,663***

Parole Board


Patented Medicine Prices Review Board2

Privy Council Office


Public Health Agency 


Public Prosecution Service19

Public Safety


Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal1
Public Service Commission87*

Public Works


RCMP Public Complaints Commission1
Statistics Canada2,856

Transport Canada


Treasury Board


Truth and Reconciliation Commission4

Veterans Affairs


Western Economic Diversification


* The figure for the Public Service Commission (PSC) does not originate from public sector union reports (as the others do), but was provided to CBC News by the Public Service Commission directly. It represents the actual number of full-time positions to be cut from the ranks of the PSC, not the number of employees who have received notice that their positions are affected. The PSC tells CBC News that of these 87 positions, 38 will be reduced through attrition and retirement, so only 49 employees will actually be declared surplus. Nine of the 87 positions are executives, while the remaining 78 positions are unionized, although the exact jobs downsized were not specified.

** Although public service unions report more than 1,000 employees from fisheries and oceans, including the coast guard, have received notice that they are affected by this downsizing, the minister's office says only about 400 jobs will be lost by the end of the workforce adjustment process.

*** Although 1,689 Parks Canada employees have received notices that their jobs are affected, the agency says only 638 positions are being eliminated. Similarly, at CIDA between 250-300 positions are expected to be cut despite more than double that number of employees receiving affected notices.

^ Although over 5,000 letters have been sent to HRSD employees, unions report that the department has told then only 2,100 positions will be eliminated as a result of the 2012 budget.

We invite any other departments or agencies offering similar concrete information to get in touch.

Regional impacts

CBC News is also tracking figures released by public-sector unions to identify how many jobs in each region have been affected by the budget cuts. (Note that these figures are changing frequently as more notifications are issued, and the locations of some affected positions have not always been identified.) These figures tally numbers released to date by public sector unions.








National Capital Region




British Columbia*




* Some of the union reporting groups Yukon and B.C. together, others report all three territories together as "North"


Federal job downsizing timeline

Summer 2011: In an effort to balance the federal budget by 2014, ministers asked 68 departments to offer up scenarios for five and 10 per cent reductions to their bottom lines over a three-year period. The "strategic and operating review" was characterized as a chance to "reflect on how we currently meet our mandate" and "explore how we can modernize the way we do business to improve the services that we deliver to Canadians." Meanwhile, earlier rounds of cost cutting were already yielding job reductions in 2011.

Late winter/early spring 2012:  Cabinet ministers tasked with reviewing departmental scenarios made final decisions on where to cut and by how much.

March 29: The federal budget announces the elimination of 19,200 jobs, roughly a third coming from the National Capital Region around Ottawa, as part of a spending review to trim $5.2 billion over three years from government departments and agencies.

Canada's public servants by the numbers

  • Federal public service: 282,352.
  • Federal government: 425,371 (includes the federal public service, RCMP regular and civilian members, Canadian Forces members and reservists, non-commercial Crown corporations and other organizations (such as independent boards and commissions.).
  • Federal public sector: 526,699 (includes the federal government and federal business enterprises, ie., Crown corporations engaged in commercial operations.

Source: Treasury Board of Canada 

April 3: The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents 60,000 professionals, reported that 400 of its members had received notices that they were affected by the cutbacks. The letters went to employees of the Defence Department and the Public Service Commission of Canada, as well as the economic development agencies for the Atlantic, the West, Quebec and southern Ontario.

April 4: The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) warns that the 19,200 figure from the budget may be low-balling the job losses to come: 6,300 jobs remain to be cut based on previous strategic and operating reviews from 2007 to 2010, plus "thousands and thousands of term employees will not see their terms renewed" beyond the full-time staff reductions.

April 4: The Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) reports that about 1,100 civilian positions are being eliminated from the Defence Department, at office headquarters, on military bases and at reserve sites. Roughly one-fifth of the positions are with the military's research agency.

April 11: PSAC reports that 5,561 of its members in 23 government departments received notices saying they could lose their jobs as employees whose positions were affected by the reductions.

April 11: PIPSC releases additional numbers for its members, saying another 1,500 received notices from their departments that their jobs are affected, bringing the total professionals affected to close to 2,000. 

April 12: The Customs and Immigration Union (CIU), which is part of PSAC, reports that 1,151 of its members working for the Canada Border Services Agency have been notified their jobs could be affected within three years. (These employees were included in the over 5,500 who received notices April 11, as reported by PSAC.)

April 13: APEX, the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada, confirms to CBC News that they are aware of 600 executive (non-union) positions in the public service being identified as surplus as a result of this strategic review. No departmental or regional breakdowns are offered for this figure – CEO Hanny Toxopeus writes that it is "too early in the process to understand the full impact on departments."

April 19: Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announces the closure of three federal prison facilities, estimating that approximately 1,000 positions could be affected by the closures. PIPSC confirms 101 of its members working in corrections services have received notice that their jobs are affected. The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says the closures came as a surprise. 

April 30: Public sector unions report another wave of notices going out to affected employees in at least ten departments including Aboriginal Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Library and Archives Canada, Parks Canada, Service Canada, Statistics Canada and Transport Canada.

May 17: Unions report over 1,000 fisheries and oceans employees, the majority of whom work for the coast goard service plus others involved in research, have received notice they will be affected by the budget cuts. The minister's office says only 400 jobs are being cut at the department, despite the higher number of affected notices issued. 

June 27: Thousands of employees at HRSDC, Canada Revency Agency, Fisheries and Oceans, Justice, Defence and other departments receive affected notices.

Sept. 13: 1,600 employees of HRSD, the RCMP and other agencies receive letters. Many work in information technology and administration for delivering programs like employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan and old age security.

Oct. 25:  94 National Research Council scientists, researchers and business development officers who work in the NRC’s life sciences, engineering and business management divisions across Canada receive letters informing them their services are no longer required.

Nov. 16: Treasury Board President Tony Clement issues a news release saying that so far, the federal government has cut 10,980 jobs. 7,500 positions were eliminated through attrition, by cutting vacant jobs or not replacing people who left willingly, Clement said.

Individual public servants continue to receive notices on an ongoing basis. 

Total affected employees reported to date, including confirmed surplus positions:  over 27,000.


CBC News reports on regional impacts