New approaches needed for aging federal public sector workforce

    OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Service Alliance of Canada
(PSAC) says the federal government needs to change a number of its practices
if it is to meet the challenges of the changing demographic of the federal
public sector.
    PSAC National President John Gordon, appearing today before the Standing
Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, called for changes in
staffing approaches and practices if the federal government is to meet the
challenges of an aging workforce.
    "Staffing for part-time or short-term needs does not attract the same
consideration of employment equity objectives as are in place when an employer
is staffing on an indeterminate basis," says Gordon in response to a statement
by the President of the Public Service Commission (PSC) that 88.6% of federal
staffing is in term, student and casual positions.
    According to the PSC's 2004-05 Annual Report, approximately 65% of those
hired permanently into the federal public service were hired from a pool of
temporary workers. "Perhaps this is why a Senate Committee recently described
this practice as a 'significant stumbling block' to achieving employment
equity," says Gordon. "Reducing, if not eliminating, these back door
opportunities is the solution and it's a solution that our staffing agencies
    Gordon also addressed the loss of institutional memory that the
government faces. "Saying, as the PSC does, that we are well equipped to
replace staff and put people in the chair of a retiree gives no indication
whatsoever as to how well we are equipped to transfer the knowledge and
expertise that departing workers take with them. It will be a substantial loss
and has the potential to adversely impact delivery of public services."
    Gordon cautioned against eroding federal pensions, making it more
difficult for workers to retire, as a solution to this problem. "Average
pensions are anything but generous, particularly for women. In 2005, a retired
federal public sector women worker received an average pension of $14,185."
    "The key to adapting to demographic change and ensuring that Canadians
are well served by their public service is flexibility, flexibility that
allows workers to ease into retirement and flexibility that allows them to
remain on the job in a reduced capacity that facilitates the transfer of
knowledge and experience to new hires into the system who represent the
diversity of Canada."
    As a result, the PSAC is calling on the federal government to amend the
Public Service Superannuation Act to allow public sector workers to reduce
their work week and receive pension benefits as outlined in the recent
Conservative budget.
    According to Gordon, other things the government can and should do as an
employer include ensuring that federal departments and agencies use students
and student employment in accordance with government policy and not as cheap,
menial labour, as is currently the practice in too many departments and

    The PSAC represents over 160,000 workers, the vast majority of whom work
for the federal government in its departments and agencies.

For further information:

For further information: Louise Laporte, PSAC Communications, (613)
558-4975 (cell)

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