OTTAWA, Sept. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The Harper government, having finally
figured out that being seen to be "green" could translate into votes, is in
the process of sacrificing other vital Environment Canada programs in a
misguided attempt to focus almost exclusively on climate change.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada's Union of Environment Workers
(PSAC/UEW) takes strong exception to Environment Minister John Baird's claims
that no programs have been cut and that spending is just being prioritized for
climate change initiatives.
"Program budgets that are being slashed by 50 to 100 percent are cuts,"
says UEW National President Bill Pynn, "regardless of what the government may
"The government's decision to cut programs not related to climate change
demonstrates their lack of a comprehensive plan for sustaining and protecting
our environment and their abysmal lack of understanding of the important work
Environment Canada performs," says Pynn. "It is also one more move by the
Harper government to reduce if not eliminate the federal government's
responsibility to provide necessary public services at the national level."
Protecting Canada's environment is about more than just climate change.
Cuts at the Canadian Wildlife Service will virtually eliminate the ability to
observe changes in ecosystems, while cuts to the Migratory Bird Program will
significantly hinder the monitoring the health of bird populations. The
program that protects nationally significant habitats for wildlife and birds
simply no longer has a budget.
According to Pynn, Canadians have a right to know why these cuts are
being made and what will be their impact. To date there has been no
consultation or transparency involved in the decision-making process that has
resulted in these budget cuts.
"Sources are being quoted as saying that the department has over-spent
its budget," says Pynn. "In fact, Environment Canada is seriously underfunded.
It doesn't make sense to expect the department to operate with a budget that
is inadequate to provide the total package of environmental protections that
the public has a right to expect from its federal government."
Ironically, the government is prepared to spend $60 thousand to address
the plummeting morale of workers at the Canadian Wildlife Service at the same
time as the program has lost 80% of its budget. "Talk about skewed
priorities," says Pynn. "Our members just want the resources to do their
While Baird describes the government as a "climate change champion" in a
departmental e-mail, the Conservatives' conversion from climate change denier
is more about rehabilitating their image with voters than with any long-term,
comprehensive commitment to protecting our environment, says Pynn.
The union is calling on the government to restore funding to Environment
Canada programs and to develop a comprehensive environmental plan that
includes but is not restricted to climate change initiatives.
For further information:
For further information: William Pynn, National President, Union of
Environment Workers, (613) 736-5533, No.228