Major job cuts and departmental reorganization were announced yesterday as the government of Newfoundland and Labrador rolled out its promised flatter, leaner management structure. The 17 per cent reduction of the provincial public service’s management ranks and streamlining of ministries and agencies are among several actions outlined in the provincial policy document, The Way Forward, released last fall, which established six-month, 18-month and longer-term deadlines to achieve a wide range of fiscal, social and growth targets.
“We realize this is a very difficult time for people who are impacted by this new management structure,” Minister of Finance Cathy Bennett said. The province expects to reap annual savings of $20 to $25 million in salaries and benefits through the termination of nearly 200 employees and permanent elimination of another 90 currently vacant positions.
Mergers and/or reconfigurations will bring more operational responsibilities under the umbrella of four newly expanded departments: Municipal Affairs and Environment; Fisheries and Land Resources; Tourism, Industry and Innovation; and the Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs Secretariat and Office of Labrador Affairs. The Office of Climate Change — formerly part of the department of Environment and Climate Change — has been reassigned to the Executive Council.
“The Way Forward was developed using the guiding principle of doing better with less,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball.
Other pledged actions for the near term include: a 10 per cent reduction in the provincial government’s building footprint by 2020, beginning with the return of 40,000 square feet of leased space to the market by March 31 this year; a review of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation also to be completed by March 31; and the launch of a program to allow municipalities to lease Crown lands for economic development purposes.