Charlene Porter, Local 1 – Sent a letter to the Herald which was published on March 27. Click below to read the letter:
Melissa Lake, Local 1 – wrote a letter to the Cape Breton Post on April 2nd which has not yet been printed. Here it is:
I’m one of the 38 workers who were recently laid off from Nova Scotia Provincial Parks in the name of saving money. I’d worked at the beautiful and well attended Whycocomagh Provincial Park for 18 years when, on February 27, myself and six co-workers were informed that our park and six other parks were going to become “self-serve” and that all of our positions had been eliminated, effective immediately. We were to be replaced with machines.
I, myself, am a single mom, trying to help my children get their post-secondary education. To say the least, I am devastated. I’m sure that this loss is equally difficult for every one of us and some will be forced to move to other provinces to find jobs that can support our families.
Most of the work that I did at the park was reception, and for sure, park receptionists do far, far more than accept payment and hand out camping permits. In my many years at Whycocomagh Park, I’ve been called upon to put band aids on children’s little fingers; to give directions to that special place the whole family will enjoy; to call and check availability for a much anticipated park day trip; and to set up a tent at two am for a family of exhausted travelers. One of my best and favorite “vacation saves” involved tracking down a purse lost in Pictou and having it delivered to the owner, who was camping in our park the following day.
The feedback we’ve received from visitor surveys tells us that having friendly, professional staff available is important and they want and expect good services at the park. So, it’s very troubling and confusing, and personally, highly insulting, to have government tell us our clients won’t notice the difference between a person and a machine at the park. I never thought that I would see the day, in Nova Scotia, where I would have to tell friends and family I’ve been replaced by a machine. Yet, here I am.
So where and why, we ask, is the justification and logic behind this decision by the McNeil government?
Parks are a public resource. Making a profit has not been the goal of parks operations. In fact, we are not allowed to compete with the private campgrounds. So, for the Minister of Natural Resources, Zach Churchill, to say they are cutting park staff because parks do not make a profit is again confusing and inconsistent.
I also have a question about why we are supporting an Ontario company when jobs are needed in our province. According to a tender document, Nova Scotia is paying $1,800,000 to an Ontario company (CAMIS) to operate our park on-line and phone reservation system for 2015. How many jobs would that pay for in Nova Scotia? What are the priorities of our government?
I am astonished, disappointed, angry, and afraid of what our government might decide to do next, having seen, first hand, how our government can send millions to Ontario with one hand and cut $600 thousand for much needed jobs in rural Nova Scotia with the other. Should parks support themselves more? Of course! If they were allowed to compete with the private sector and weren’t starved for resources, they could – but that is not the mandate for public parks. Do we need to find savings in these tough financial times? Absolutely! But paying an out-of-province company almost $2 million does not help our local economy sustain itself.
Perhaps we should consider replacing the Premier and a few ministers with computers, and then we would have decisions based only on numbers without any humanity – would anyone notice the difference?
Suzanne Miles writes:
Dear Mr. Premier and MLA,
My husband and I are both proud employees of the Province of Nova Scotia. We have worked very hard to get where we are today. When we started having children and got married, we decided we wanted to stay in Nova Scotia to raise our family. We worked many different jobs from waiting tables, pumping gas, door to door flyer delivery and working retail to make sure we could raise our family in the best place possible.
When I had the opportunity to start working for Service Nova Scotia, it was one of the best days of our lives. We would be able to have a stable life for our children. My husband was also a substitute teacher for 8 years never knowing if and when there would be work. Three years ago he started with the Department of Community Services as a casual employee. With hard work and dedication, he was able to become a permanent full time employee and after 16 years of financial struggles we both had careers that would enable us to remain in Nova Scotia until we retired.
We are the middle class, We are the people buying houses, cars and paying a good portion of our pay-cheques to taxes. We support local businesses and take our vacations within the province to keep our money here and help sustain our wonderful province.
Please do not put us in a position that we have to leave our home and families by cutting public service jobs, wages, public service awards and pensions. Please do NOT privatize services such as Service Nova Scotia, Land registry and Joint Stocks. Service Nova Scotia is run by the people, for the people. Please don’t take that from the people of Nova Scotia and my family and give the profits to some private company.>
Again, we are proud Nova Scotians, and VERY proud public servants. We want to continue to live in and support this province.>
Suzanne Miles and Family
Heather Kerr writes:
Dear Mr. Premier and MLA,
I am so very disappointed with your decision to cut park services ,affecting jobs and services ,delivered to Nova Scotians and tourists.
I feel that these cuts will negatively impact peoples experiences, and in turn their decisions to use our wonderful park system. I also think this decision will negatively impact the potential for growth to our park systems, and miss out on the growing camping movement.
I am a public servant who works in a highly stressful position. I receive a considerable amount of enjoyment and regeneration from my recreational pursuit of camping. My partner and I camp mainly in the provincial campgrounds. We choose them because they are clean, safe and to support our province. We now have concerns about health and safety in the parks that are not going to be monitored , cleaned and staffed to the required standards I really think these cuts are short sited and unimaginative. Camping is a growing trend and could be an opportunity to capitalize on a family centered, natural, wholesome activity.
These parks are in our small rural communities. The loss of jobs impact the families and communities that are already in a fragile position.
Please reconsider this decision and look more at the potential opportunities and benefits of our Park services
Kathy Wright writes:
Dear Mr. Premier and MLA,
I am an employee of the Dept of Community Services, Sydney and have been such for almost 15 years. I am also a voter and tax payer. This year I paid in excess of $14,000.00 in Income Tax. I love my job, but now I find myself wondering how secure my position is here. Even if security was guaranteed, what is my job turning into. As a caseworker it is important to interact with my clients on a human, personal level. They are the people in need, the most vulnerable citizens of this area. When you removed the travel allowance you took away my ability to provide personal, quality service to my clients. You took away my ability to assess a client’s personal situation which at times could result in referrals to other agencies such as Adult Protection or Child Welfare. How many will fall through the cracks because they needed services and were unable or unwilling to recognize. How many elderly or children are living in unacceptable conditions which will now go unnoticed because we are no longer able to go out to the client’s homes. One child in peril is one too many, would you not agree? Not all decisions should be based on dollars and cents plus I am sure there are many more viable ways to cut spending without trodding on the people who deliver much needed programs to the community and depriving those in need. For years our mandate seemed to promote quality service and self-sufficiency. That mindset seems to be falling to the wayside as we forge ahead into generalization, privatization and automation.
I am a mother and the sole earner for my household. Your removal of the travel allowance will hit me hard. Any negative change in income will hit me hard. People like me are the ones who sustain this economy. We spend locally and we vote. I can assure you I will not cast a vote for a person or party who is so determined to strip away the very foundation of the Dept I work for and deprive the people I assist on a daily basis.
Maybe you should seek input from those who are delivering your programs, those on the frontlines. Try talking to us, involving us, seeking guidance from us as we are the ones who truly see what the people need in our community and where we can find reasonable ways to reduce spending. Work with us. Not against us.