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Conservative platform promises to maintain size of public service, stays mum on Phoenix

 New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh takes a selfie with a supporter during an election campaign visit to Guildford Town Centre in Surrey on Sunday.
New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh takes a selfie with a supporter during an election campaign visit to Guildford Town Centre in Surrey on Sunday.

A Conservative government would freeze the growth of the full-time federal public service starting next year and maintain the same staffing levels until the budget was balanced, according to the party’s costed election platform released Friday.

The document lays out a plan to hold the number of full-time, non-contract positions in the federal public service at 2020-21 levels into 2024-25, by which time the measure would have saved the government $1.2 billion and the deficit would be eliminated.

“Spending on the public service would continue to grow, because wages would continue to increase as scheduled, pensions would be protected, and sick leave would be protected,” the platform read. “Public servants can be reassured that a Conservative government would appreciate the excellent work they do.”

The Tories would also find savings via the public service by “controlling expenses on travel and hospitality,” working towards a 30 per cent reduction in federal government office space and finding savings in fees paid for consultants.

“Often, consultants are brought in to replace our public servants, who do excellent work already,” the platform read.

The Tories also promised to strengthen public service whistleblower protections, establish “industry standard” cybersecurity performance benchmarks for senior public servants and require that all federal government departments “establish plans and targets to improve their services in both official languages.”

The platform makes no mention of a plan to deal with the Phoenix pay system and the havoc it has wreaked on public servants’ paycheques. Asked for details about any such plan earlier this week, the Conservatives did not respond.

Here’s what, if anything, the other parties said they would do.

The Liberals have pledged to move forward with a new pay system to replace Phoenix, while “entirely eliminating the backlog of outstanding pay issues.” Asked if they were committing to achieve the latter by the end of their next mandate, a Liberal party spokesperson sent a statement that did not address the question.

The NDP have promised “fair compensation” for workers impacted by Phoenix and a plan to bring compensation advisors into the departments where people with pay issues were working to resolve the backlog. The New Democrats would also replace Phoenix with a new, functional pay system.

The Greens do not say anything about Phoenix or public-service pay problems in their platform. The party did not have any information to provide when this newspaper asked what, if any, plan they had on this file.

People’s Party spokesperson Martin Masse said the PPC did not have any platform proposals about Phoenix or the public service more generally.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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