Shared Services Canada plan to outsource jobs spiked by Ottawa
NDP leader says the Liberals face difficult prospect of telling autonomous agency what to do
The federal government will not allow Shared Services Canada to outsource nearly a third of its workforce to save money, the minister responsible for the department told the Commons today.
Public Services Minister Judy Foote made her remarks a day after CBC's exclusive report detailed how Shared Services, the troubled department providing in-house tech support to the federal government, was planning to outsource just under 1,700 jobs.
"The report …was from 2014. We have no intention on following through on that strategy," Foote said in the Commons. "We have just committed in this budget to over $384 million to Shared Services Canada."
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Shared Services hired the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to "determine what services, functions and activities currently under the delivery mandate of SSC are candidates for outsourcing." About 6,000 people work for Shared Services, but the report only looked at the 3,500 positions not related to security.
The consulting firm initially recommended outsourcing 3,000 positions to save $50 million a year. Shared Services went back to the consultants, asking them to look at fewer positions. PricewaterhouseCoopers returned with a plan to outsource 1,685 jobs instead.
"It could be that many, but there's additional work required," said Peter Bruce, senior assistant deputy minister for strategy at the agency when initially asked about the report by CBC. "We are not going to outsource everything.… There are some things that we will retain, some things that we will outsource and some things that need further study before we come to that conclusion."
But those plans appear to have been thwarted by the Liberal government, with Foote reaffirming her position in a statement from her office later today: "As set out in the 2016-2017 Report on Plans and Priorities, there is no plan to eliminate jobs at SSC."
Explanation called for
Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service, the union that represents workers at Shared Services, said the whole affair was a mess.
"The lack of consultation, the lack of notice, the lack of planning has really contributed to what is now being called a boondoggle in Shared Services Canada, and this is more of the same unfortunately," she said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who confronted Foote on the issue during question period in the Commons today, said the federal government is in a difficult position.
"One of two things is possible, either [Shared Services is] going to be allowed to pursue their mandate — and this is their study and that's what's happening — or the government has taken over something that's supposed to be an autonomous agency," Mulcair said. "In either case, the Liberals have an awful lot of explaining to do."