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I am writing to lend support to the beleaguered federal civil servants in our country.

As a retired civil servant after 30 years’ service (now able to speak out!), and the son of a civil servant with 40 years’ service, I feel well qualified to write these words. The campaign of disdain and neglect that the Conservative government is showing for all of its employees is completely reprehensible and misleading.

Nobody will argue that governments at all levels stand to be reduced in terms of expenditures, and sometimes even staff, periodically.

This government, however, has sunk to unimaginable depths in its campaign to gut government services and essentially bully those who are not allowed to defend or speak for themselves.

This campaign of denigration is unprecedented.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of all of this is that the Conservative campaign feeds the perceptions of the ignorant and misinformed amongst the public, especially those in the business community, both large and small.

This latter group moans about pensions and benefits, etc., afforded to government employees but conveniently neglects to reference the fact that government employees cannot award themselves bonuses or reap the benefits of charging exorbitant profits.

To be a civil servant is an honourable and respectable profession in any civilized society and the functions they perform, both regulatory and otherwise, are very important.

Indeed, one does not have to look very far to see other jurisdictions that are not able to derive the same benefits from the strong and dynamic civil service that Canadians have had, at least until now.

So to my former colleagues, who are facing dark and troubled times, take heart; these Conservative and idealistic big business toadies will soon be turned out of office, as they so richly deserve to be!



Marvin Barnes

St. John’s

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Recent comments

  • James Camper
    February 05, 2014 - 11:35

    Thank you for sharing. You make a good case. Thanks for sending a little inspiration our way. James Camper | Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Utah

  • Rémi
    June 28, 2013 - 14:24

    Merci Marvin, ça fait du bien à lire.

  • REO
    June 25, 2013 - 15:59

    A typical MO for the public service that I have witnessed in my 20+ years of service is that the management doesn't seem to want to believe or accept that ANY of the problems might be because of them ! This seems even more so with the Government of the Day who's feces doesn't smell, BTW, and, because of that, the only logical cause of any problems must be the public service !!! It seems almost vendetta-like !

  • Michael
    June 24, 2013 - 11:37

    The problem is that when the economy is bad and any real private industry jobs with good positions are far and little the government has a lot less tax revenues from a population making good wages. Without today’s low interest rates the federal deficit would have ballooned. To prepare for the advent of rising interest rates the government has chosen to reduce government expenditures by reducing the public service itself and any costly benefits they may engender. The majority of voters do not care about "Fat Cat" civil servants. For example, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is lobbying the conservative government in that regard. The CFIB represents the majority of small and medium size businesses in Canada. The problem is when the typical civil servant is brought to par with the small and medium size business employee that civil servant will have no guaranteed pension plan, watered down benefits not to mention salary claw backs (4% is projected for next year). Just watch as the government continues to play a shell game around our PIPS and PSAC unions. BTW Job security is next (the process begins with performance reform April 2014). Just ask any young person if she or he wants to enter a dull, frustrating bureaucratic job if there are no rewards, at least in private industry if you work hard you would reap the rewards either in the form of a legacy that you pass down or as Marvin said (above) in the form of large profits. Ask me what I would do if I had to do it again after 27 years in the government, I am not sure because like many civil servant I am handcuffed to the pension penalties at least until I retire in 3 years. I do know that all my siblings and many of my friends in private industry (trades and restaurateurs mainly) are doing very well and many will have something to pass down to their employees (some of which maybe their own family members). On one hand these Business owners envy government workers for Their Superannuation plan, but on the other for the fact that these business leaders are in control and love their business and do not mind working past 60 or 65 or even 70 because they enjoy having a legacy to leave behind. Unfortunately not everyone can be a successful business owner who actually cares about their employees. So for the majority who are employees working for private industry bosses who only care about profit I wish you the very best of luck because once the government gets their way with its civil servants many of these greedy private industry bosses will have absolutely no higher standard/precedent to follow. Some of the benefits we civil servants have acquired with the hard work of our unions and our forefathers (i.e. Marvin’s dad) took decades to achieve, currently the conservative government successfully annulled severance, wiped out subsidised parking, they have and continue to increase our pension contributions, and are now targeting sick leave, performance and job security and the latest is a 4% salary roll back. It took us decades the conservative government only months. Again, the non public service voters can only see this as the demise of the FAT CATS. The solution is for the population to react to the fact that globalisation is not working to change our leaders’ minds about returning the good manufacturing jobs to Canada. After all the Americans are preaching “America first”, when was the last time you bought something “made in Canada”. All of the points I am making are all somewhat related. We can’t all have white collar jobs with master’s degrees or PHDs, some of us would be quite happy having a blue collar job working for Canadians locally and dealing with “America First” as and when.

  • Al Dunbar
    June 23, 2013 - 20:24

    Marvin really hit the nail on the head with his description of the campaign being waged by the government against its own staff. It is one thing to do a bit of trimming - especially given that some of the staffing increased happened under Harper's watch. But it is quite another to blame us for everything that is wrong with government.

  • david
    June 23, 2013 - 11:30

    The civil service provides the very best job security in the nation, long with better pay and pensions and benefits than the private sector. This is simply not equitable, it is not financially sustainable, and it is not base on any economic rationality. It has come to this on the long-term "kick the can down the road for some other sap to deal with" attitudes of fellow bureaucrat negotiators agreeing to unjustified labour's not their money, and it makes potential problems go away. Et voila.

    • Eli
      June 24, 2013 - 10:23

      Yes David b'y, and we should all be happily living on minimum wages and the accompanying benefits, as long as it didn't apply to you of course. Your gatekeeper take the day off Sunday?

    • Sharon
      June 25, 2013 - 15:52

      People tend to forget that federal public service workers contribute their own money into their pension fund (40% increasing to 50%) AND the federal govt was happy to use the 30Billion (yes billion) surplus in the public service pension fund to pay down the Canadian debt. So, in fact, it seems that the Canadian public has benefited by the public service pension plan.

    • CP
      July 05, 2013 - 10:23

      Better pay and benefits that the private sector? Not necessarily. This is one of the reasons the Harper campaign against the Public Service has been so successful - misconception. I left a much higher paying job in the private sector because I believed I could make a difference serving Canadians. I am no more secure than I was in the private sector. The employer contributions to my pension plan does not come close to making up for the salary cut and and I contribute 40% to that pension. By the way - we have no choice but to pay into that pension....if I wanted to invest it elsewhere, too bad - I don';t have a say. People need to start thinking about what public servants do...not what we get that others don't. As employers, would you not want a highly skilled and motivated workforce to ensure the best value for your money? By cutting, and in some cases, eliminating benefits to the public service, what happens to the motivation to attract the workforce you want?? I am all for efficiency and improvements but that doesn't happen simply by cutting jobs and benefits. Cutting jobs may very well have the opposite effect.

  • Eli
    June 20, 2013 - 15:16

    I agree Marvin, but what bothers me to no end is the damage done before they get the boot. Same here provincially with that Muskrat racket. And that's what it is a racket.