The Public Service Alliance of Canada, like many federal government public sector unions, is upset that the Harper government is trying to trim the civil service. Earlier this week, the Harper government announced it had reduced the size of the civil service by nearly 11,000 positions. Most of those job cuts came by attrition — i.e. someone retired or quit and no replacement was hired — and only a few were actual layoffs. And while 11,000 sounds like a lot, there are about 275,000 federal civil servants. So that’s about a 4% reduction.
But, as I said, PSAC is upset about this and they’re going to take it out on cross-border shoppers Friday, if I read between the lines in this press release correctly:
As many Canadian shoppers travel south of the border to take advantage of “Black Friday” deals on November 23, they should also expect traffic congestion to be exceptionally high and longer wait times. These longer wait times are a direct result of staffing cuts at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
To let Canadians know how they are being affected by these cuts, border services personnel will be speaking out on Black Friday. [Do read the rest of the release, there's much more.]
The Harper government, which has cultivated a reputation for taking no guff, has put out this press release in response (oddly, no link yet):
OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Nov. 22, 2012) – On November 22, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Ontario) issued a news release under the title “Border Officers Use Black Friday to Highlight Government Cuts” with comments from Jason McMichael, the First Vice President of the Customs and Immigration Union making claims linking increased wait-times at the border to reductions in CBSA capacity. These claims are completely unfounded. There have been no reductions of front-line staff in the inspection lanes at our ports of entry. Any union action that undermines the Agency’s efforts to process people and goods would be regrettable.
The CBSA has planned for the anticipated heavy traffic volumes this Black Friday weekend, and we are well aware of the potential impact of a strong Canadian dollar and the new exemption limits. While we have more inspection lanes than this time last year, we continue to monitor our operations and we are well positioned to address any increases in traffic volumes. All lanes will be open at peak times, and travellers can expect professional, efficient and courteous service from our officers.
The CBSA and its officers remain unwavering in their commitment to deliver its mandate of protecting Canadians and facilitating travel and trade. We continue to be committed to helping ensure the health and safety of Canadians.
In other words, Canada — do Black Friday in the US Friday at your peril!
And, on behalf of Canada’s retailers, let me humbly suggest you’d probably have just as much fun driving an hour or two to a town you’ve never visited and seeing something new!