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Fallout from the Federal Budget… Continues

CCA Bulletin 08/12

May 3, 2012

The CCA continues to identify the cultural impacts of federal budget. On April 30th, several departments and agencies announced a third wave of cuts to the federal public service. Today, the statistics we need and impacts on collective memory.

Statistics Canada – Will the Cultural Sector be Deprived of Essential Data?

Additional cuts at Statistics Canada ($33.9 million between now and 2014-2015) will push many employees out the door. More than 2300 employees have received notice that their job is at risk with the final elimination of 270 positions. Over the last few years, successive budget cuts at Stats Can have seriously affected the organization. The reductions resulting from the 2008 cuts were for the most part absorbed through internal restructuring and increasing efficiencies. Last year the agency, like other agencies and departments, had to take measures to face three years of inflation on goods and services and salary increases. And to the loss of $33.9 million announced in the 2012-2013 budget, one must add the impact on Stats Can of the cuts imposed in other departments, which are its main clients (including Canadian Heritage) and which, through cost recovery, contribute 20% of the agency’s budget.

Although culture statistics at Stats Can have known a slow decline, particularly since the cuts of the mid-90s, the cultural sector hasn’t suffered too much of those of more recent years. Still, useful surveys like radio and television viewership were abandoned, depriving Canadians of an important tool for analysis. But, the sector is impacted  by other decisions by the government which have little to do with the budget. The decision to put an end to the long form census is bound to affect the information available to the cultural sector, to the government and to society in general when trying to assess and plan policies.

For now, it is too early to know precisely how the cuts announced on Monday will play out. One thing is certain however, Stats Can predicts that several economic indicators will disappear from the landscape and the agency has already warned that the country’s economic overview each month will be more limited. According to many economists and researchers these cuts cannot be applied without harming the collection of data.

On the good news side, Canadian Heritage confirms that the project for a satellite account for culture statistics continues on its merry way. The third phase of the feasibility study sponsored by the department has been successfully completed and the fourth and final phase is on its way. This means that by March 2013, we should have a completed template. It remains to be seen what future government decisions hold for this key project for the arts, cultural and heritage sectors. First question: will some of the key data for this account still be collected by the Service Industries Division of Stats Canada, which took over responsibility of the culture surveys further to the 2008 reorganization within the agency? For the moment, we don’t know the impact that the cuts announced this week will have on this part of Stats Can.

Heritage

The good news announced previously on national museums and the program in The Magazine from April 26th, does not mean that the heritage sector has been spared completely. The decisions that are emerging tend to show otherwise, even while the government focuses on the commemoration of historical events they have deemed important.

Parks Canada: Impacts on Local Tourism?

Our parks and historic sites are a key element of the tourism industry, it seems apparent that many of our national parks are not getting enough visitors. This helps to justify that 1689 positions at Parks Canada have been declared at risk. Changed from the jurisdiction of Heritage to Environment Canada a few years ago, the agency is responsible for national historical sites like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to save money, the agency is converting many of the remaining employees from full-time to part-time seasonal work.  Furthermore,  Some Parks such as the Forges de St-Maurice have already announced the elimination of guided tours and a shorter season. Even one of the jewels of Parks Canada, the Fortress of Louisbourg, will not be spared.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC): Consequences for our Collective History

There have been severe cuts at LAC which will obviously have an impact on the institution’s ability to preserve our heritage and serve as our continuing memory. After this third wave being sent out, 43% (234 employees) of  Public Service Alliance of Canada members who work at Library and Archives Canada have been given notices.  LAC  has confirmed that 20% of its workforce or 105 positions will be eliminated. The situation was already far from rosy at LAC and things have certainly not improved.

Department of Canadian Heritage

Of the 1777 employees at the Heritage Department, 190 have received their notices. Over the next three years 275 positions will be eliminated 111 of which are vacant positions.

Understanding Canada: Canadian Studies

Now, if foreign students want to study our country, they must do so entirely at their own expense. This thirty year-old program has been abolished. Last Monday, the embassies and high-commissioners called beneficiaries of the program to announce its elimination. One of our partners the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States will be deprived of $95,000 per year. A campaign to lobby the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs has already begun.