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The timing of Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter’s economic doom and gloom message over the holiday period is being called into question by CUPE Nova Scotia.

CUPE NS President Danny Cavanagh – whose union represents 18,000 workers in the province, many of whose jobs are funded by the provincial government – says, “One minute we are popping the champagne bottles over the $25 billion ship building contract, then the next minute we have the premier issuing this very dire economic message.

We are left wondering if this has anything to do with the fact that most public sector unions’ contracts have expired and we are about to commence bargaining,” says Cavanagh.

The premier and the finance minister need to understand, CUPE will vigorously oppose any attempts to balance the provincial budget on the backs of public sector workers,” says Cavanagh.

In the health care sector, meanwhile, job losses are already happening as a result of the province’s mandated 3 per cent budget cuts, a so-called ‘shared services review’ and technological change in the DHA’s across the province.

CUPE Acute Care Bargaining Committee Chair Karen MacKenzie says, “Critical jobs in our province’s health care system are already on the line. CUPE Locals have already met with their employers and are aware of some of the effects of the three per cent claw back on the budgets of the District Health Authorities (DHA’s).

We know layoffs are coming in some DHA’s and the time frame for this may be quite short. On top of this, staff have also been told that the shared services review will most likely affect Health Human Resources within the system.

Our message to the health minister is that without proper staffing of our facilities the health care system will not work,” says MacKenzie.

Later this month Ernst and Young is expected to issue its recommendations on the three best ways to save money in our health care system. Says MacKenzie, “Asking a private consultant with a history of promoting privatization to examine these options is a little like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”