Edmontonians participate in nationwide protests against public service cuts
Published Saturday, September 15, 2012 4:51PM MDT
Edmontonians joined in on a nationwide rally Saturday to raise awareness and protest over public service cuts.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada union organized a National Day of Action in cities all across the country Saturday.
In Edmonton – workers and their families gathered at Hawrelak Park to drive home the message that federal cuts will impact every day services and affect every Canadian citizen.
“We’re standing here in solidarity against the public service cuts that are happening because these cuts affect everybody,” said organizer Nina Kiviluoma.
“We just want to show that we’re here and we don’t want these services to be lost or cut. We want to raise awareness that these cuts will affect everybody and you may not know that they’re gone until they’re gone, until you’re trying to access a service and it’s no longer there anymore.”
Edmonton’s event included a free barbecue and games for workers and their families but more dramatic protests were held in other cities – including Toronto, where demonstrators tried an effigy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Ontario politicians during a “People’s Court.”
The “prosecutor” of the event said jobs have been destroyed in the country, citing how free trade agreements have shipped jobs offshore, eliminated job and driven down wages in Canada.
In Calgary, nearly 500 correctional officers were expected to rally outside the prime minister’s Calgary constituency office to protest what they say are dangerous work conditions.
That protest was part of a larger campaign protesting deteriorating conditions in Canadian prisons which the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says is due to budget cuts and overcrowding.
The PSAC says ongoing public service cuts are expected to impact services like food inspection, old age security, assistance to veterans and transportation safety.
“People are upset. People are angry. People don’t want to lose the services or their jobs,” Kiviluoma said.
“It’s pretty heart-wrenching when you hear about the job cuts. Just a couple days ago over 500 Human Resources and Social Services Development employees have just lost their jobs so it’s not just one or two. We’re looking at over 18,000 now as a count for our members who have received affected notices. It’s a pretty impact on the economy and society as a whole.”
According to PSAC, as of the end of this week, more than 18,000 of its union members in 44 federal departments across Canada have received notices saying they could lose their job – including more than 2,000 people in the Prairie region.
With files from CTVNews.ca