Garrison Petawawa defence employees have erected a billboard visible along Petawawa Boulevard to promote how government cutbacks to their workforce will affect everyone, and not just their members. In the photo are, starting from left, John MacLennan, Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) national president, Robyn Benson, Public Service Alliance of Canada president, Steve Gauthier, president of UNDE Local Branch 629, and Arlene Preston, UNDE, VP Ontario.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada is trying to get the public on side in their fight against job cuts, and they have Garrison Petawawa employees to back them up.
Under a national campaign, We Are All Affected, PSAC is getting the word out across the country staff cuts to federal public service employees will affect everyone, from those who rely on their services to the local economy dependent on their salaries.
To help draw attention to this, Steve Gauthier, president of Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) Local Branch 629, which represents employees at Garrison Petawawa, said their membership have erected a living billboard. The 10 foot by 20 foot structure, located along Petawawa Boulivard close to the entrance of Biesenthal Road, lists the services and groups which they feel will be affected by cuts, with two more names being added every month.
“This is part of the campaign to let people know what is at stake here, and how these cuts will affect them,” he said. Once the billboard’s space is filled with names, sometime early in 2014, it will be used as a springboard for more activities publicizing the cause.
Robyn Benson, PSAC president, said this campaign is about Canadians and the pride the works take in providing them serves, and how this is being jeopardized by current government cutbacks.
“This campaign is right across the country from coast to coast to coast,” she said, stressing they are trying to make it clear cuts to public service workers and the jobs they do affect all Canadians.
Arlene Preston, UNDE, VP Ontario, said it is important to inform people when federal government workers lose their jobs, they aren’t the only ones affected. Their families struggle to cope with the loss of secure income and are forced to cut spending on everything from food to education.
She said Canadians find it harder to access the services they need and may not even realize that programs have been cut until after they are gone. Local economies suffer when government workplaces are shut down and small businesses lose their customers, plus the uncertainty is leading everyone to reduce their spending.
One example given by PSAC is the announced closure of nine Veterans Affairs Canada district offices, which the group said will hurt veterans.
Benson, Preston and John MacLennan, UNDE national president, were in Petawawa Thursday to attend the general annual meeting of Local 629, which was held at the Petawawa Legion.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist