Budget documents did not suggest there would be any additional cuts, but did provide an update on its progress so far.
A total of 16,220 public service positions were eliminated last year as a result of the federal government’s multibillion-dollar cuts to departmental spending outlined in the 2012 budget. Of those, 9,390 were achieved through attrition.
That’s almost all of the 19,200 jobs – 4.8 per cent of its total workforce– that the government claimed it would cut to scale back on spending.
Stating that “the government is on track to achieve the savings announced in Economic Action Plan 2012,” budget documents offer no further elaboration of where or when the rest of the job cuts will occur.
But the austerity measures are keeping the government on track to balance its budget sheet by 2015, with an expected deficit of $18.7 billion in fiscal 2013-2014 – a decrease from the deficit of $25.9 billion last year. That number is expected to shrink to $6.6 billion by 2014, and come out with a surplus of $800 million by 2015, according to projections provided in budget documents.
Actions in this year’s budget are expected to produce an additional $500 million in savings in 2013-14, rising to $2.3 billion in 2017-18 for a total of $8.4 billion over the next five years.
The lion’s share of those savings will come from closing tax loopholes and cracking down on tax evasion, which is expected to save the federal government $316 million this year and $806 million the next.
Compliance programs headed up by the Canada Revenue Agency are also expected to put an additional $125 million back in the government’s pocket this year. That number jumps to $550 million in fiscal 2014-2015, according to budget documents.
WINTERLUDE LEAVES NCC
One big change for Ottawa's tourism players will be with events such as Winterlude and Canada Day that a Crown corporation, the National Capital Commission, currently organizes.
The budget calls for the planning of those and other events to be transferred to the department of Canadian Heritage. Heritage will now be responsible for promoting the National Capital Region.
STREAMLINING WITH SHARED SERVICES
Other initiatives driving down the deficit involve streamlining government departments and continued investment in Shared Services Canada.
The newly formed department aims to shift 63 e-mail systems into a single, secure platform, consolidate government data centres from 300 to less than 20 and streamline electronic networks.
The federal government says it will continue seeking out cost-saving solutions, such as its decision to consolidate end-user IT device procurement. Instead of each department ordering equipment for its employees, all IT procurement will be conducted by one department for annual savings of $8.7 million beginning in 2014-15.
It has not yet been decided whether this will become part of SSC’s mandate, or if it will be handled by another department.
INVESTMENT IN TELEPRESENCE
Planes, trains and automobiles will no longer be the federal government’s preferred method of transportation across the country.
Government employees will increase their reliance on telepresence solutions to cut down on transportation costs by $42.7 million, or five per cent, annually.
To achieve those savings, however, the federal government plans to invest $20 million this year in telepresence technology. That money will come from SSC’s budget, and SSC will monitor the use of the government’s videoconferencing facilities along with the Treasury Board Secretariat.