Canada slashes green jobs

By Laura Brown - 08 Aug 2011 19:29:0 GMT
Canada slashes green jobs

The Canadian government is being accused of turning its back on climate change as it is confirmed 776 jobs are to go at Environment Canada.

The department, dedicated to protecting the environment and conserving the country's national heritage is to cut 11% of its workforce in a bid to cut its budget.

The agency's spokesman John Morris says the department had to "take a hard look at its spending" and has to focus its resources on "priorities like improving air quality and cleaner water for Canadians".

However the ability of the department to continue its commitment to Canada's drive to tackle climate change if it loses such a significant chunk of its workforce has been questioned.

Of the 300 positions within the department to be eliminated they include chemists, biologists and meteorologists, many of which are involved in the research and development of the country's environmental agenda.

Liberal Environment Critic Dr Kirsty Duncan, who received her PHD at the University of Edinburgh and is now an MP for Etobicoke North, called the plans "reckless" and wants the government to reconsider.

These massive cuts are deeply alarming and will result in reduced ability to evaluate scientific issues, such as air quality, climate change, and water quality, and could potentially lead to less-informed decision-making," said Dr. Duncan. "At a time when extreme weather dominates the headlines and is a top of mind concern for Canadians, this government is turning its back on climate science - how does the Environment Minister justify this decision?"

The proposed jobs cuts come after the July announcement that Canada's Environmental Assessment Agency would see its budget nearly halved with a 43% cut. The two combined, Dr Duncan says "will seriously impact the federal government's ability to monitor Canada's environment and promote healthy living, and will reinforce the message to our allies that Canada is no longer a leader in environmental protection."

Unions have also responded angrily and expressed concern of over the ability of Canada to maintain its scientists responsible for climate change, weather forecasting, nature and wildlife.

Gary Corbett is the president of the Professional Institute of Public Services Canada. "These cuts will undoubtedly have serious consequences on Environment Canada's ability to continue to fulfil its scientific mandate in the future. Its meteorologists and other scientists perform extremely valuable work on critical matters such as environmental forecasting and climate change".

There have been assurances those who lose their jobs will be offered another position within the department, failing that an offer elsewhere in the public sector. However Bill Pynn, the national president of the Union of Environment Workers, said Environment Canada is using retirement attrition assumptions that may not prove true, which means it would be unable to hold onto to its workers.

"I don't believe that Environment Canada has the capability to offer, to a large degree, high numbers of job offers within the department," Pynn told by telephone.

"If I thought that they were able to do that, I would think they would have done this prior to announcing the degree of cuts that they announced yesterday."

Top Image Credit: © Dudarev Mikhail