The tip of the iceberg

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The cuts you don’t see are hurting the most

The dictionary defines tip of the iceberg as “only the beginning; just a small indication of a larger possibility; a problem is much bigger than it seems, as in ‘This is only the tip of the iceberg.’” Our problems can become much worse.

The iceberg provides a perfect illustration of the Conservative government cuts to public services.

This problem is much bigger than it seems; unfortunately, trying to convince the general public of this is a difficult task because the people who provide the “back room services” are hidden beneath the surface.

The Harper government is destroying public services from the bottom up by cutting back room positions while the general public only sees the tip of the iceberg.

Why do you think there is so much secrecy around the cuts?

This government continues to hide behind words like “cabinet confidences.” 

We all know the saying “The government is elected by the people for the people,” so why aren’t the people being informed as to how these cuts will negatively affect them, their families and their communities?

How many of you are collecting employment insurance, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement or know someone who does?

Where do these cheques come from — computers, right?

Who do you think inputs the information into that computer that ensures you get your cheque?

Who do you think answers the phones when you have a question?

So next time you want to blame your delayed cheque or the phone call that goes unanswered on public servants — remember who made these cuts.

I’m sure we are all familiar with the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre that closed its doors here in St. John’s last spring.

This centre provided an invaluable service and was responsible for saving countless lives.

Real people, just like you and I, worked in those centres.  You didn’t see these people, but you know the valuable service they provided and you were relieved to know they were there if you, or someone you loved, worked upon the sea.

Surely you must feel a sense of betrayal when this government cut Marine Rescue Sub Centres under the guise of saving money while at the same time paying $25 billion to purchase F-35 fighter jets? 

This government had to change an act in order to cut the Habitat Program, under a veil of secrecy, with little if any consultation or consideration of how this would affect our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans.

Have you considered who will reap the benefits of these changes?

Not you or I, but huge corporations like oil and gas who don’t want to deal with environmental issues.

They only want to deal with the bottom line — profits.

We only need to take a look at the environmental disasters we have already seen; that’s when companies were being monitored.

Do you feel comfortable knowing that these same companies now decide whether or not the work they plan on doing will have an environmental impact?

It’s like having the fox look after the henhouse.

When you go to the grocery store, do you worry about whether the food you buy is safe?

Think about this the next time you are in a grocery store buying meat for your family. Has it been inspected?

What about that label you depend on to keep your family safe from allergies?

Our veterans, who fought for the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy in this country, are under attack again.

They are losing community access to the services they deserve and need.

The Harper government is shutting down more Veterans Affairs offices, in particular the one in Corner Brook that provides face-to-face service to our veterans. 

Last, but not least, this government has closed libraries across this country, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans library here in St. John’s.

Do you know the devastating impact this has had on our scientific community? This valuable resource that they depended on for research has been closed.  

For many small communities, public service jobs are an important part of the local economy and there are thousands of small- and

medium-sized businesses in this province that count on public service workers as their customers. As these jobs are lost and people move out of the community, everyone suffers.

The Harper government has cut many vital positions and services, closing offices and cutting programs, and yes those backroom positions which are only the tip of the iceberg. 

Lorraine Power-Green is regional vice-

president of the Union of Environment Workers, Newfoundland and Labrador.

She writes from Goulds.

Organizations: Marine Rescue Sub Centres, Veterans Affairs, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Union of Environment Workers

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Goulds

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