Come election time, ballots turn into wagers as every Canadian’s vested interest in what will happen with their tax dollars is left in the hands of the future, undetermined government. The stakes are high for one particular group of professionals who create a large proportion of Ottawa’s population and who also deliver vital services to the rest of the people. In every election, they are not only voting for their country, but also determining their employer. They are public servants and under the Professional Institute for the Public Service (PIPSC), they have launched a successful media campaign this election to generate awareness of their contributions to Canada’s prosperity through all sectors of science, research, health and IT. Called ‘forthepublicgood.ca,’ the campaign serves as a resource tool for voters to read latest news updates from all national media, profiles of professionals in their work environments and analyze contentious election issues including budget cuts to services affecting all Canadians.
“Professionalism, like the public good, is founded on a few simple values: integrity, independence, accountability. For public service professionals, like the rest of Canadians, failure to uphold these values can affect not only people but the public good itself,” states PIPSC president Gary Corbett on the campaign’s website. “That’s what’s happening today in the federal public service, where years of mismanagement of resources and the wrong decisions are threatening to undermine the capacity of Canada’s public scientists, engineers, auditors, health, IT and many other professionals to serve Canadians and the public good.”
Aside from budget cuts, outsourcing or externally contracting services, pose a threat to public service jobs. Millions of dollars each year are spent on contracting temporary work for services that can be done by public servants inexpensively. Actual costs from hiring temporary workers through agencies are costly as they must make a profit and charge additional fees. In a recent report titled The Shadow Public Service: the swelling ranks of federal government outsourced workers, outsourcing costs have skyrocketed by 80%, costing approximately $5.5 billion in the last five years.
“On top of a shameful waste of taxpayers dollars, there is the incalculable cost and potential risk to Canadians when critical knowledge goes out the door with private contractors,” said Corbett in a press release last month. “In the wake of a serious cyber attack against critical federal departments, our government should be all the more alert to the importance of data security and the privacy of Canadians’ information.”
To bring attention to challenges faced by public servants, PIPSC, in partnership with the University of Ottawa, held a successful debate on April 26 with Richard Nadeau, MP for Gatineau, Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Harper and MP for Nepean-Carleton, Mauril Bélanger, Vice-Chair of the National Policy and Platform Committee of the Liberal Party of Canada and MP for Ottawa-Vanier, Paul Dewar, Foreign Affairs Critic and MP for Ottawa Centre, and Green Party by Jean-Luc Cooke, candidate for Nepean-Carleton. Under the topic of the Future of the Public Service, candidates voiced their opinions in accordance with their party platforms on scientific research and evidence-based policy, government transparency and accountability, outsourcing and attracting young professionals to serve.
As voting day approaches, PIPSC has elevated their campaign with an impressive following on Twitter and facebook. Founded in 1920 and currently boasting over 59,000 members across Canada’s public sector, PIPSC has made their presence on the national scale known as well as informed voters of the importance of public service to everyday Canadians, especially those residing in Ottawa.