People are shaking their heads in surprise that despite our have province’s financial windfalls, the provincial government is decrying a financial crisis.
Expectations and expenditures have not been managed well.
It could be argued that the fiscal cliff government now faces is the result of their fiscal chickens coming home to roost. How sustainable were government expenditures on salaries, patronage jobs and unnecessary expenditures?
It is all about choices. Were we so confident that natural resources would be dropped from the equalization program that there was no back-up plan for when Harper stuck it to us?
We needed to be able to catch-up, build and rebuild infrastructure, so that when we stood on our own feet, we could afford the services our seniors, students, the sick, public employees and communities deserve.
The government has taken a do as we say, not as we do approach.
The public service is bloated because of 13 week appointments that circumvented the Public Service Commission, political appointments have received inflated salaries, senior bureaucrats are eligible for bonuses and the government caucus has been reduced to an echo chamber.
Mix in the fact that the provincial government is coping with a triple whammy,: the complete loss of royalties from two offshore production facilities (for 1/4 of 2012), a significant drop in royalties related to a sharp decline in oil prices & the loss of $500 million from Ottawa through the Atlantic Accord.
The problem this administration is facing is that of credibility. They only have their own record to consider, the tired refrain of ranting about past governments is as old as Methuselah. Their arrogance, partisan approach and lack of strategic/consistent messaging is hurting them.
If the Minister of finance is serious about saving money, he should examine middle management, ADM and DM equivalent position and cut the number of seats in the House of Assembly by 30%.
As I have said in previous posts, public sector unions have to accept the new economic reality in the wake of the last recession and the very fragile recovery.
The pension funds got hammered in the recession. The days of high interest and gambling on good returns from the stock markets is over. Pension funds are not making the returns needed to be self-sufficient.
Successive governments in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s robbed the funds by not paying their share.
If you review the public accounts of the province you can see that the unfunded pension liability is about to balloon after a period of relative stability.
Clawing back benefits and raising employee contributions will be painful, but it has to happen if there is going to be public pensions in the future.
Governments and it’s employees have not paid enough into the pension funds to keep them whole for the future.
Pension reform is an absolute.
I think unions have to work with government to find creative, efficient models that allow the creative utilization of existing resources. Seniority trumps ability, performance or competence.
How can managers manage efficiently with their hands tied behind their backs? How can government services be maintained when hundreds of employees are being bounced around, forced into roles they do not want to be in and were never trained to do.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s public service needs to be transformed into an unencumbered meritocracy where skill, work performance and ability are rewarded with stability.
The public unions have to be part of the solution. This is not a time to bury ones head in the sand.
The principle of future economic sustainability should always be top of mind
If we have learned nothing else from our history, it is that our small population and staple driven economy is subject to the whims of demand and supply.
The new reality demands a new approach. That means putting the provision of government services ahead of partisan favors and union protectionism.