Pick any public service — education, health care, or the
general services — and statistics show that this province employs a far higher
number of employees per capita than the Canadian average. Yet, notwithstanding the
province’s desperate financial position, it entered into a four-year “no layoff”
agreement with NAPE, handcuffing itself from remedy except by attrition — a
highly unsuitable and inefficient management tool. 

The Ball Government went one step further. It agreed to pay
out of an empty till, this fiscal year, severance which had been negotiated in previous
collective agreements — estimated to cost $250 million.  It seems that the Minister of Finance did his
very best to support an assertion made in The Finance Minister’s Lucky Rabbit’s Foot that “an election looms and the government has a sale on
collective agreements”.

NAPE President Jerry Earle
Undoubtedly, the NAPE leadership thinks the deal is a coup
when, with the expense of less energy, they likely could have won a coup d’etat.
Had they been wiser, they might have demanded that the Government repudiate at
least some of the Muskrat Falls debt and place sensible brakes on irresponsible
spending habits for the balance of their mandate. Admittedly, the idea is rather
However, in failing to encourage “rightsizing” of the public
service, NAPE has chosen to cross a metaphorical Rubicon. It has decided that the
fiscal crisis should not be solved on their backs. Yet, attrition won’t allow
savings in sufficient measure to ever achieve budget balance. On the contrary
it risks causing a “lumpy” public service in consequence of a misalignment of
human resources. Neither does the Agreement afford the cancellation of entire
programs, a measure essential if a $2.5 billion reduction in expenditures is
ever to get underway.
Mary Shortall’s La La Land   ___________________________________________________
Undoubtedly, NAPE takes the position that it is the
responsibility of the Government to represent the public interest and that of the
Unions to represent the interests of their membership.  (As expected, other public sector unions and
associations will likely join them by completing similar agreements.)
In “normal” times, who would disagree? But — and I keep saying
it — these are not “normal” times. Those on the public payroll comprise a large
percentage of the total working population. Their disproportionate engagement in
any fiscal “solution” is inescapable. 
Obviously, the Unions don’t see it that way. They are not
concerned about their vulnerability or if the “lucky rabbit’s foot” of this (or
another) Finance Minister comes up short.
It might be well to remember that this issue isn’t just about the
jobs of public servants. For years, public sector unions (and the government) failed
to give priority to their pension plans. In this context, what is the government’s $2.685 billion IOU worth — payments on which, together with a
commitment to match employee contributions of $42 million annually, is supposed
to run for 30 years? 
In 2015 — when the scheme was hatched — unfunded pension and
employee benefits accounted for 74% of the province’s “net” debt. The plan
works only if the government obtains sufficient revenues — requiring access to
the debt markets year after year, which is doubtful.
For this reason, I see the NAPE deal as a dereliction of duty
— for both parties. 
The solvency of the government is inextricably tied to the
pension arrangements of all public servants. Any endangerment of those post-retirement
benefits should be regarded as intolerable to our society, as well as to them —
unless, like many Sears workers, they are content to face the prospect of becoming
Walmart greeters. I somehow doubt that is the aspiration of those who have
punched in a career spanning 25–30 years. 
NAPE gives no thought even to the near future. Evidently they
think that there will be no struggle with the bondholders for priority over the
province’s assets. Else they think Justin will favour a place with just seven
Parliamentary Seats over every other national constituency or priority.
Perhaps there’s something here I’m not getting.
On a different level, I think that the collective agreement represents
a pivotal moment in the political and economic life of the province. Why? Quite
possibly it was the very last — even if insufficient — turning point that might
have caused a reversal of our descent into fiscal insolvency. 
As the saga of the last decade unfolded, NL experienced the
high point of its economic fortune. Some think that it hit the low point too. Persistent
deficits at the level of CRAZY have cemented the prospect of going broke.
Of course, there were earlier turning points. One occurred
with the crash of oil revenues — which didn’t even make the Tories blink.
Another followed the election of the Ball Liberal Government and the disclosure
that Nalcor — possibly with Tory knowledge — hid the truth about the size of
the cost overruns, the price of Muskrat having doubled.  
Ball could have cancelled Muskrat. He could have put a stop to
the deficit practices of the Tories. But he didn’t do either. NAPE and the
others applauded.

History will likely record that, to the very end, every significant
turning point became a missed opportunity. Together they constitute an entire
series of bad judgements by the government, gutless Opposition Parties, and weak
leadership throughout our society. To state the point a different way: we have
not reached this stage of insolvency by accident. NL is not going bankrupt
because our desperate fiscal position is not well-understood or because we had
no chance, along the way, to consider the prospect of remedy. 

It seems NL society — including its unions — have decided
that they would rather take a chance and let the ‘ship of state’ wash onto the
rocks in the hope of easy rescue rather than lose their cherished positions.
What surely seems a simple metric — the idea that pain for a minority is preferable to
pain for everyone — isn’t so simple at all. 
It is in the nature of democracies to employ uncertain metrics,
including what constitutes winning. A commentator recently made this observation: “for more one hundred years Newfoundlanders having been trying to master the art of standing on a slippery slope.” Perhaps we also forgot what it means to fall.

We have a small amount of time left, including for rhetoric.
We might use it to herald a single achievement.

have passed our last turning point. Now we have reached the point of no return.

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?


  1. Question.
    If the province is unable to pay the interest on its debt, and is declared insolvent, what's the ramifications to this situation and how do these union contracts negotiated between the province and NAPE stand up? Are they required to be held up by Ottawa (if they step in to foot the bill)? Or the debt collectors? Or do they become null and void?

    • Good questions Jerry. The reality is the bondholders will soon come knocking and demand deep cuts that neither NL or Canada can ignore. They will demand deep cuts to social spending like health care, education and infrastructure.

      They will get their pound of flesh. The politicians will bleat that there is nothing that can be done and it was unavoidable. The unions, now willing enablers of the fiscal madness will ironically pay the largest price. The helpless victims of the boondoggle, the old and poor, who were lied to about the need and "least cost" will suffer the most and be least able to offset the costs of the massive increases.

      Will residents allow Ball and the rest of the political miscreants to live in their self serving alternate reality while they cross their fingers and hope they get through another electoral cycle before the shit hits the fan? Is it not time to demand that they protect the NL future? The alternative to uncomfortable forceful political engagement now is watching NL sail off the fiscal cliff that you are fast approaching.

    • This is exactly what the membership was told …

      Duration: four year collective agreement (2016-2020)

      For collective agreements expiring March 31, 2016, effective date of signing with expiry of March 31, 2020.

  2. Funny how the public service is always the bad guys…meanwhile the pigs feast at the trough. Smoke and mirrors as usual.

    Seems uncle may be an elitist like the rest of his ilk (apparently). Very disappointed uncle, I thought you were behind the middle class, not against us. 🙁

    Go after Richard alexander and the government managers and their assistants…not the regular people fighting to cling to this godforsaken rock (due to mismanagement of your kind).

    So much for uncle sticking up for the little guy. 🙁

    • There is no little guy in government services. Per capita we have the largest public service that are paid significantly more than the Atlantic Canada average. They have pensions unavailable to the rest of NL society and much better than average benefits.

      There have to be cuts. There have to be salary reductions. There have to be cuts to benefits and pensions.

      Do I think those cuts should be higher for government managers? Heck yes.

    • I recognize this murder the messenger story well. I have been the victim repeatedly and like me I am sure UG will smile and keep speaking to the issues.

      Your union, is aiding in the destruction of your economy by lying about the dismal state of your economy using per capita GDP spending as a metric. If you want to do something useful for your members or kids ability to stay in NL take the Nape leadership to task.

    • There are a number of things in the agreement that are really bad. Inflation is real and approximately 10% in many areas, yet we have four years of zero wage increase. That alone sets us back several percent in real income.

      The severance of one week a year is 2% of a salary, so we effectively had a 2% wage rollback.

      New employees won't get 50% of their benefits co-paid. Up to 20 years of service gets you only 15% co-paid and now you have to work 30+ years to get the old benefit. These aren't luxury plans either — many expensive doctor prescribed drugs are denied.

      Overall, we have joined the race for the bottom and we are picking up speed.

    • UG is not elitist trying to stiff the middle class. Unfortunately the old term "strength in numbers" applies. In this case the unionized public servants have very large numbers. A small change in their wages/benefits/etc has a large impact on government spending. A 10% cut in their wages would save government 100's of millions a year vs cutting MHA's, ADMs, senior managers, etc wages by the same amount might save around 5 million a year. Unfortunately any substantial cost cutting is going to have an impact on these people.

    • Realize you have to blame someone or something….but why blame the canary…..????, the little (old) bugger he died, shouldn't have brought him in, in the first place…like blaming George Murphy when the price of gas goes up…I know some still do…

    • Anon @ 09:52. I didn't read UG saying this so stop being a
      "don't pick on me" person. He said that the union leaders are not being helpful in solving our current fiscal dilemma.
      The rest of the "middle class" and "lower class" cannot afford to pay for the neverending demands of a severely bloated public sector. We are BORROWING $2 million per DAY to pay for the salaries and benefits of too many civil servants—PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!

    • Anon@14:09
      You do realize that the civil service is all that is keeping the NE Avalon afloat right now? While I agree the civil service has to be cut it has to be done with cuts in other areas. Nacor is the first that need a few shake downs, second, start selling of some assets such as NL Hydro, the stake in oil fields and reduce the number of MUN expenditures like program duplication with the rest of Atlantic Canada

    • Bruno…that's rich coming from you. Shoot the messenger. I seem to remember your post from the previous UG page on Conrad Black's article….only criticism of the man nt content. I think you are quite renowned for "ad hominem" attacks.

      Sorry UG…it needed to be said.

    • So you are a big fan of Black and his actions are you? If we had a functioning legal system Black would still be in jail. Remember it took the US to prosecute him.

      It is pretty rich getting criticism from someone afraid to identify themselves. I make my positions public and don't fear using my name. It figures you should defend the indefensible hypocrisy and criminality of Black.

      Black has deserved criticism. Your anon support speaks to your integrity does it not? Why does he now refuse to leave the country he spurned? Are you a fan of the corporate crimes he committed?

      What do you have to say from the cheap seats anon? Stand up and let us have a look at you.

    • What public money does Richard Alexander spend?

      It's fine, and good – very good – to go after those business orgs for their small-mindedness, hypocrisy, and so on… but they are not spending the public money (even if they are glad to benefit from the spending.)

  3. Now, what's the average supposed to say, feel or think, or be concerned. We have UG saying we have passed the point of no return, and we have the unions saying full speed ahead, the government is good for it, and it is not our fault because of our fincincial position, and also, bot and Richard etc. Saying we are in bad shape, but not our fault either, and pointing the finger at govt. and the unions, and muskrat at full speed ahead on borrowed money, and govt. saying not really our fault, blame the previous govt. and the opposition grabbing at straws. What are we to believe, says Joe. And we really don't know what the bankers and financiers are saying in terms of ability to borrow, yet. We should always look for those that don't have a direct invested interest, and they all do, except UG, it would appear to me. UG invested interest seems to be the same as the average innocent person, with very little control over anything. I would prefer to trust the no direct interest in our finiansial situation, so there for I side with UG. Is UG the canary in the shamozzle, if so what will be a sign that there is no doubt at all that his predictions are correct?? Will it be the bond holders, and money markets in our ability to borrow, will that be a sign that the canary is on life support, and she's gone by she's gone, we lost her. The parodine shift…..only hope then is will uncle Ottawa save us……

  4. The oil wealth was by in large spent on the Civil Service of the province. In the 90's we had an annual expenditure of 4.5 Billion, or which about 30% was spent on salaries. Now we spend about 8 Billion annually, of which a little less than 50% is spent on salaries. The oil wealth has dried up, and the total amount paid to the civil service has to be adjusted accordingly.

    It is not much more complicated that that.

    • Another example where the Gov. of the day, missed the opportunity of tackling the energy alternative, rather than building a Boondoggle. The province seems poised to make the same mistake for generations to come. Where is the roll out of the Low Carbon program? Does the province even know what this is about? Your own grandchildren and future generation deserve better.

  5. The use of Canadian 'average' provincial expenditures is like comparing women's bikinis. Some women have large assets and require more material – one size does not fit all. Similarly, different provinces have different divisions between Provincial and Municipal responsibilities for expenditures meaning one size again does not fit all. Keep in mind the downloading of Provincial financial responsibility to municipal governments by the Harris Government in Ontario.

    No layoffs does not preclude privatization. Elimination of severance opens the door to a well devised plan with the cooperation of the Unions and the affected employees to move portions of Government into the private sector. Take for example the Sign Shop in Transportation and Works – why is this a Government function? Put in place a program wherein the current employees are either provided the skill set to take over and run the operation with a five year period in which their bids on the signs would be allowed a 20% premium over other bids at the end of which they would compete equally with other sign producers in the province. Or if the employees rather, use the public tender process to liquidate the entire sign shop inclusive of employees, machinery and equipment, and inventory of materials to the private sector wherein the employees would be provided a five year period of guaranteed employment. Presto, a stronger private sector and a reduced Government balance sheet. No layoffs in either approach and severance will have been paid out so no lingering financial commitments to the employees involved. Moreso, the people will be respected.

    And how many other Government functions can be treated the same way?

    As well, Government has still not undertaken the potential savings program available to it. Eliminate the use of stickers to show annual registration of vehicles – other jurisdictions in North America have done so and the police can access the MRD system from their front seat computer to determine if the annual fee has been paid. Go further and eliminate the annual fee by placing the net amount collected into the gas tax – and relocate the staff involved in annual registration into other sectors of Government. A more efficient tax collection system and a more fairer collection of the tax as it would be directly linked to amount of roadway use. There are many more examples of this available in Government.

    Time for the Ball Government to Govern rather than continue to play the fiddle.

    • "The use of Canadian 'average' provincial expenditures is like comparing women's bikinis. Some women have large assets and require more material – one size does not fit all. Similarly, different provinces have different divisions between Provincial and Municipal responsibilities for expenditures meaning one size again does not fit all. Keep in mind the downloading of Provincial financial responsibility to municipal governments by the Harris Government in Ontario."

      Even after adjusting for that factor, the provincial public sector in NL is still grossly outsized compared to any other province.

  6. At risk of straying off topic, the recent flooding in the Corner Brook region that prompted a state of emergency also provided a lamentable demonstration of the cynicism of NL politicians in their willingness to go to any extreme for the political “photo op”.

    There was the star of the ED MARTIN SEVERANCE PAY SCANDAL, DWIGHT BALL, and supporting cast members of that spin-off sit-com… Eddy Joyce, Scott Reid and Steve Crocker… the lot of them decked out in costume with their spiffy hi-vis jackets and gleaming hard-hats… front and centre for the media coverage of the flood damage and recovery operations, and soothingly offering up their trite, stomach-churning platitudes as to how they’re going to make it all better for the flooded-out masses.

    Meanwhile there was not one single publicly-broadcast press conference conducted by Fire & Emergency Services NL… an agency that comes under Joyce’s own portfolio mind you… not one single verb broadcast over the airwaves from FESNL to inform NLers as to the ongoing status of that emergency situation, or to advise of the safety measures that those impacted should follow as the event unfolded.

    Contrast that with the professionalism shown by New Brunswick’s emergency services agency, NBEMO, which managed to provide regular updates in press conferences broadcast to the NB public during the course of the emergency situation in that province, WITHOUT a bunch of hick politicians hampering onsite recovery efforts by mugging for the cameras in a cynical attempt to gain political brownie points with a public under duress and trying to cope in the midst of an emergency.

    Bloody-well ridiculous… turning a public emergency into a political photo op, with their local media enablers sickeningly glad to oblige…. do these goddamned arseholes really think the public is that hokey, that dimwitted and gullible, as to not see through such a shameless display of disingenuous cynicism? These NL politicians, they're lost… they’re just like a bunch naive little children in need of supervision… with that bunch it’s petty party politics that will always trump the competent, decisive management of provincial affairs, the public good be damned.

    • You stated it right on, anon. In other jurisdictions we see the public being informed promptly by proper officials. Here we have the arsehole politicians making politicial hay. Last I heard people flooded out at Mud Lake are still not returned or know their status.Tick, tick , tick…….2 million a day being borrowed to pay interest.
      The last time we went tits up, teachers , doctors, social workers…. all got salaries slashed 50 percent………seems we head this way now instead of trying to prevent this. If these politicians had the public good at heart, they would lead by example…..volunteer a 25 percent salary reduction, and the well off , like Ball be a dollar a year man, and reduce their pension benefits, and so force at least 10 percent rollback on many public servants, especially the sunshine list group.

  7. When Dodge Ball started speaking last night on the news I changed channels. I had no faith in him as opposition leader and he has shown no improvement since becoming premier. Truly believe he is the worst premier the province has ever had and at the worst possible time.

  8. What % of the $3.5B the spendthrifts PCs increased the budget by from 2005-2015 and the Liberals continued is tied directly to PS salaries and benefits? Parliamentary budget office said NL is overspending $2 BILLION a year or 25% of the budget. NLs Budget should've been capped at $6B for the post Atlantic Accord boom years but NLs Trump (DW) was a populist that wanted to be liked in spite of his personality. $1 BILLION a year in debt servicing and soon to be $500M+ in rate mitigation, the PS unions are as delusional as the MF boosters.

    When Gov was taking money out of PS pension plans and funnelling it into the general coffers were the people in charge of the pension plans asleep at the wheel? Pensions were mismanaged by both sides

    • What is in the Budget for adopting Energy Demand Management programs? Lot's of good tech jobs here, (If you can get the Labour Movement on side. Some in other provinces actually sponsor low carbon building construction, fossil fuel displacement, etc.). Help mitigate the energy cost increases on the low and fixed income ratepayers, by supporting Gov. sponsored EDM.

    • The boondoggle similarities to MF are stunning. Overestimate demand,overstate benefits, lowball the price, neuter the regulator, former political opposition ignoring or suppressing the facts about risk (like the 2013 SNC Lavalin risk report).

      It seems the megaproject is like a drug for politicians that quickly lose any ethical or moral perspective. With chumps to cover the cost of their megaproject habit they are happy to mainline the drug to the next electoral cycle.

      We live in dark and cynical times Robert.

    • One key difference that the Site C comparison fails on: BC has the population – 9X that of NL – the economy, and the revenue base, to swallow a Muskrat-sized mistake at Site C.

      NL, with the population about the same size as Surrey, does not.

  9. All this talk is great, for wordsmiths.
    But what really needs to be done,in my humble opinion, is a scorched earth approach for getting this ship moving again.
    Cut, slash and burn!
    Nobody around here has the jam to wrestle control from the enlightened grand poohbaas who "lead" us.
    My heart burns to see my unique, beautiful, strong and forgiving home willfully destroyed as the bastards smile at us.
    Is this what it comes down to after 500 plus years?
    We are, collectively, a hard crowd.
    I want to run for government. My soul is commanding me
    to go for it and take it. Alas, an old criminal record doesn't allow me to run for anything, other than dog catcher.( not sure about that) lol.

    So, for now, I will fume in silence.
    And await the Messiah. Or someother revolutionary to get behind.

    " What people say about you , tells me a little.
    What you do tells me everything".

  10. UG seems to think that these problems started when the Nape agreement was signed the other week. Well guess what? These problems started back when politicians and governments realized they could build a false economy by borrowing money from wealthy investors who didn't care at all about the state of an areas economy or the ability of a populace to pay it back. The project called Muskrat Falls should have been stopped in its tracks by sensible investors but because these same investors knew they could depend on elected officials to pass the needed revenue gathering lawas to pay for all of this spending. The PUB it seems is just such a lapdog. We must follow Iceland's example in 2008 and hit the streets. We will never be able to recoverer our losses from Muskrat Falls but we can provide a sober reminder to elected officials and those seeking office alike that we will not be their legacy project revenue base again.

    • Oh, the brave anonymous ones on this blog……Dave Vardy asked why so many are afraid to speak up. A day or so ago I heard a quote, once stated by Martin Luther King ` That it comes a time that the silence of people to speak up becomes a betrayal`
      Few have spoken up as much as Vardy and Des Sullivan.
      Yes, a few thousand in Iceland marched in the streets and changed the direction of their country.
      Here we have the silence of many, that is willing to betray our province, with a high risk of slipping into insolvency. We are a `hard crowd` indeed. Perhaps a hard cowardly crowd!
      Winston Adams

    • Lol, an 3:31, you got that wrong, UG has been saying this for years, guess you have not being followingling UG, you must be a "johnny come lately", as there will be all kinds coming out if the wood work now that it has smacked them in the gob personally. UG has cursed the muskrats for years, and their folly, but to no avail, so more and more has been heaped on the nl camel, and now his back has been just about broken by the latest burden. The leading labour lawyer in Canada Howard Levitt has just added his opinion about the governments recklessness with the public purse, and our ability to survive on borrowed money, wether it be health care, public services, muskrat or collective agreements. But I don't think the powers that be are even interested in his comments, their heads are in the sand or hands in the till to get the last few remaining pennies before the bust. Get what you can while the gettin is good attitude, she's gone anyway, so we all go down together, some with their pockets full and others with narry a penny. Don't blame UG, no more than you can blame George Murphy when the gas goes up at the pumps.

    • Muskrat Falls is only the icing on the cake. The real spending problem started in 2005 after Danny caved into the public sector unions, and not only gave them fat raises and job security after promising to reduce the size of government, he went on to increase the size of government.

      That's a $1.5- to $2-billion cost added in five years, compounded year over year over year until the province either goes broke, or someone comes in with the fortitude to fix the problem. Since the latter is NEVER going to happen, GOING BROKE, IT IS!

  11. Only answer I have, is that they must have gotten to Uncle, or he was very good at hiding the fact he was/is now an elitist looking down his nose at the common working middle class…I had been thankful for uncle and his viewpoint, until this article…muskrat and nalcor alone will bankrupt this province…not any union agreement. Fearmongering is all. now uncle is subscribing to it. Again I will express how disappointed I am with u uncle. You most certainly will not be invited to our next family gathering as you will be with your own kind at the trough. To think that I actually thought someone was fighting for us? I guess old habits are hard to break? you did serve in government. will there ever be anyone with the best interest of newfoundland and her peoples? Say it aint so, uncle. 🙂

    • UG is not "pissin" on the "common working class". He's stating a fact that the Unions are not helping. A NO Layoff Clause has fundamently tied Government's hands is reducing the size of the SEVERELY BLOATED Public Service. I guess you'll say now that the Public Service is not overstaffed when a full 10% of the NL population as a whole (not 10% of the working class) is employed by Government leaving everyone having to pay for it by overtaxing and high pricing of everything else to pay for the excess. Chr–t Almighty, can you not see that borrowing in excess of $2million/DAY to pay for a bloated Civil Service is unsustainable. Either the Civil Service is reduced substantially (not just by attrition) or wages and benefits rolled back substantially OR a combination of both with lesser cutbacks. The combination of layoffs and rollbacks MUST happen!!! We cannot afford not to.
      NOBODY is "picking on" you

    • Muskrat falls wayne… or should I say Richard?

      The layoffs can and will happen if areas are made redundant. That's the loophole. Besides cut all the fancy boys, they do nothing anyways…but watch, the front lines will be taken out, not the fancy pants with the high salary's and severance. As always. The media et all is out on a smear campaign of the public service, while they ignore muskrat. The smart people see through it, but alas 40+% want danny back, so they know they jump on bandwagons, and love to hate on the public service.


    Checking the tables at the above link refute most of what is being said here about public service salaries and the size of our public service(granted the info is 2011, a bit dated)–NLs public service is averaged sized with low wages when baselined nationally. NLs average public service salary is a hair above $50k and we employ about 1 out of every 8.1 persons in the public service.

    Granted, I didn't filter out the Municipal and Federal workforce to get at the Provincial portion, but this is a bit surprising to me, I figured we would have been heavy in the population : public service worker ratio; I did know we lagged nationally when comparing wages.

    On point with the article, I am inclined to think a 2yr freeze in layoffs is a good trade for reducing future severance liabilities. Granted we will be on the hook this year for approximately $250M, but that is better than a future liability continuing to compound. As said above, MF gets most of the publicity for outing the fiscal status, but our problems stemmed from long before—even going back to the unfunded pension liability, the pay equity hearings and the economic crash of the 80s etc; Dear DW did us no favours but there is more than enough blame to levy at every government since confederation.


    • For anyone who is interested, the following is Article 38.01 of the GS 2013 agreement, it partially defines severance and eligibility:

      An employee who has nine (9) or more years of continuous service in the employ of the Employer, is entitled to be paid on resignation, retirement, termination by reason of disability, expiry of recall rights, or in the event of death to the employee's estate, severance pay equal to the amount obtained by multiplying the number of completed years of continuous employment by his/her weekly salary to a maximum of twenty (20) weeks pay.

      More or less, every employee with greater that 9yers upto leaving was entitled to 1wk per year of service. From what I have seen in the media(I have not seen the new draft agreement), now all employees will get paid out 1wk/yr to a max of 20wks to remove this article from the new agreement.

      I am inclined to think this is worth a 2yr freeze on layoffs that are outside the normal operational layoffs.


    • PENG2….I have paid for the Stats Canada reports (Tables 183-0002) for the period 2003 through 2011 which was the last time the report was issued. The provincial public sector grew by almost 10,000 from 2006 to 2011. For example in March 2006 PS employment was 60,296. In March 2010 PS employment was 70,725. The combined federal employment and municipal employment numbered around 11,000 and did not change for the period I noted. That meant we had approx. 10,000 more provincial workers. Combined with salary increases and improved benefits raises the total compensation was in excess of $1 billion more in 2010 vs 2006. It is now very difficult to get the current numbers, as you have noted.

      The bottom line is that when close to 1 in 3 people employed in the province work for some level of government combined with up to 33% of the entire NL population receives some form of compensation from government this place is in serious trouble.


    • Keith:

      I am not sure I agree with your statement that wages and benefits went up in that time period significantly(but would have to check the CAs to be sure)—memory tells me that was the time when there were wage freezes and cuts to paid leave. I think DWs comment of 'until the cows come home' was in that period and there were a couple legislated agreements. The agreement in 2013 to 2016 gave 0%/0%/2%/3% raises with the 2016 agreement due to give no raises..

      In any event, I agree that our workforce is too dependent on the public service and reductions on cost are required; but the 2011 data doesn't show that our public service is distorted wage wise or by the total of PS employees when compared nationally or in Atlantic Canada.

      I am just not sure where to get the savings from.


  13. Yes peng2 "there is enough blame to levy at every government", but as Johnny E would say, we never had nothin to do nothin a tal with, so we scraped by. But beginning in 2003 the oil royalties began coming in, oil prices rose, we became a have province, what ever that means, but we as a province had our own money, the first since confederation, to spend as we pleased. We could have our day in the sun, billions rolled in, and at the same time we had lots of construction jobs, long harbour, bull arm and the muskrat starting up. We went from rags to riches and now back to rags in a decade or so. We were given a window of opportunity to do things differently, to get our feet on the ground, to prosper, and we did for a little while, but we also blue it. Such opportunities don't come along like that every day, maybe once in a lifetime if you are lucky, and we did not have the right leadership to do the right things. So now we are back to square one again, and maybe worst as the population got a taste of plenty, especially the younger, and their expectations wil not be met, so the best and brightest will just leave. And we could go on with population decline, aging population, health care, and many other challenges. We have to accept and understand where we are, before we can get our feet on the ground and chart a new course and plan for the future. Are we up to the challenge as a people and do we have the leadership. That is the question. Amen.

  14. Make you sick, wouldn't it? The crowd running this godforsaken rock?

    That vile Ball/Bennett "deficit levy" that's gouged out of NL taxpayers being used to prop up the most bloated public sector in all Canada. Just so those gutless wonders won't have to make the tough decisions until they've secured their goddamed pensions. And then? Well, who cares? Those effin bastards will be golfing in Florida.

  15. Tor would say we needs a plan for the future of our grandchildren. Set a 50yr horizon. Get at it. In my 80yr lifespan, NL was never short of smart and diligent workers, intelligent, highly qualified entrepreneurs, scholars, Arts and Science professionals. Forget about political leadership, this is not about to happen and who needs it based on past performance?

  16. The latest platitudes Osborne offers up regarding the unprecedented and outrageous "no layoff" clause nicely illustrates how these inept fools running the provincial government will justify building a false economy on what essentially comprises a house of cards, by excessively funding the public service until it has become a hideously bloated beast propped up with horrendous amounts of cash gouged from NLers as the highest taxes in Canada and the vile "deficit levy". Yet this colossal money-eating Frankenstein created by government still contributes exactly zero dollars to the overall provincial GDP.

    Osborne tells us that government spending is unsustainable, but avoids telling us why. This is why.

    Meanwhile, it appears that it will be left up to the bond markets to decisively resolve the issue of NL's excessively bloated public service, once and for all.