VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A spending watchdog is calling on the federal government to tighten its belt as the country deals with a massive deficit because of COVID-19.
Pandemic spending has pushed the federal deficit to record highs this year, with a fiscal snapshot showing close to $350-billion. As a result, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says savings need to be found.
CTF Director Aaron Wudrick says the federation wants to see the federal employment rolls cut by 15 per cent, or around 55,000 jobs, on top of a 15 per cent pay cut across the board, based on its recent analysis.
“It cannot just be people who work outside government who bear all the pain. Government itself is going to have to make do with less because it’s just not fair to ask everyone else that’s taken pay cuts, lost jobs, lost their business to continue to pay not just the same, but even more in some cases for people who are in government,” he says.
Wudrick suggests the cuts could save Canadian taxpayers $14.3 billion.
“It’s the elephant in the room. Obviously we’ve spent a tonne of money we didn’t plan on spending and we need to start thinking about how we are eventually going to claw our way back to a balanced budget.”
Wudrick explains putting another 55,000 people out of work doesn’t necessarily sound as bad as it would on paper, saying many of those people could take early retirement.
“People need to recognize there are tough times ahead. We may have been through the worst of the health crisis, but the fiscal pain is going to last for years,” he says.
Wudrick argues many, if not all, of the jobs can be shaved-off through attrition and retirement.
“Historically, you’ve been able to do anywhere from half-to two-thirds, so I think it’s achievable. In a normal situation, you could even achieve all of it through attrition,” he says.
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