New poll shows strong opposition to federal government actions in BC, including closure of Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, cuts to food inspection, fisheries protection, and parks programs in province

Public Service Alliance of Canada BC says Conservatives cutting 1,200 positions in BC

VANCOUVER, Sept. 20, 2012 /CNW/ - A new poll shows strong opposition to federal government actions in BC, including the closure of Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, cuts to food inspection, fisheries protection and parks staffing, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada - BC.

Bob Jackson, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for BC, says Conservative Members of Parliament who returned to Ottawa this week for the fall sitting should be telling Prime Minister Stephen Harper there's trouble for his government in BC, because a majority of voters oppose his cuts.

"British Columbians have been overwhelmingly opposed to the planned closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station but they are equally upset at federal cuts to such valuable services as food safety, fisheries and salmon habitat protection and our national parks in BC," said Jackson.

"And even a majority of Harper's own Conservative voters in BC are not happy with some of these cuts - that should be a very strong warning that they are on the wrong track," Jackson said.

"Over 1,200 positions in 36 different federal departments and agencies here in BC have been cut so far," said Jackson. "These job losses will be felt in the front line services that the public depends on."

The Conservative government is cutting spending by $5.2 billion a year and has told more than 18,000 federal workers across Canada they could lose their jobs.

In a telephone survey of 1,035 BC residents, the majority of British Columbians opposed cuts to federal services, including:

  • 68% of respondents oppose reductions in staff at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, responsible for food safety, including 48% strongly opposed and just 16% in favour, with 14% undecided;
  • 65% oppose the planned closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in Vancouver and Coast Guard marine communications centres in Tofino, Comox and Vancouver, including 48% strongly opposed, with just 15% in favour and 18% undecided;
  • 63% opposed the closure of Fisheries Offices and salmon habitat protection programs in BC, with 39% strongly opposed and just 20% in favour, with 17% undecided;
  • 57% opposed to reducing the camping season and visitor services at National Parks in BC, with 33% strongly opposed and just 24% in favour, with 19% undecided.

Jackson said the poll conducted by Strategic Communications this summer for PSAC BC surprised him with the strength of opposition to government cuts expressed by Conservative Party voters.

"For example, this polls shows that 45% of Conservative voters oppose closing the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, with 28% strongly opposed - that's a losing proposition for the government - and only 13% of Conservatives strongly support it," Jackson said.

"So this poll should be a wake up call in Ottawa and for BC Conservative MPs who are supporting these cuts - British Columbians clearly recognize the value of federal public services and don't want them cut," Jackson said. "Conservative MPs in BC should be worried right now, very worried."

"The public understands how budget cuts will impact the services they rely on - from Veterans Affairs and Employment Insurance and Old Age Security client services, to environmental protection and monitoring, to search and rescue, to food inspection - and they've been speaking to us at community events throughout the province, telling us how they have been affected." Jackson said.

Opposition to the government's plan to cut services and spending is strongest in the BC's Interior and North, Jackson noted, where the public already have trouble accessing federal government programs and where the economic impact will be most felt.

  • 71% of respondents in the Interior of BC opposed cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans;
  • 71% in the North of BC opposed cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;
  • 63% in the Interior opposed cuts at Parks Canada.

Representing 185,000 workers across the country, including 16,500 in BC, PSAC is Canada's largest federal public sector union.

SOURCE: Public Service Alliance of Canada

For further information:

Patrick Bragg, PSAC Communications, cell: 778-889-3486


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