Budget challenges forces 233 government layoffs
The B.C. government is laying off 233 people in the forests and citizens' service ministries, citing budget challenges in the coming year.
It's the second round of provincial government job cuts since the Liberal government announced a record budget deficit last fall.
Last September, 106 government jobs were cut through attrition, employee transfers and a hiring freeze.
Allan Seckel, Premier Gordon Campbell's deputy minister, said in an email to public employees Wednesday that further workforce adjustments may be required as the government prepares to manage another challenging fiscal year.
"As we all prepare to manage into another challenging fiscal year, further workforce adjustment may be required," the email said. "But we are continuing our commitment to keep the overall impact on staff to less than five per cent of our workforce over three years."
The layoffs come at a particularly difficult time for the B.C. forests industry as the signs of economic recovery are showing little impact in the province's hard-hit forest sector.
The pine beetle epidemic, the economic downturn in the United States and low pulp prices have crippled what was once British Columbia's economic engine, generating $4 billion in government revenue annually.
Campbell is set to deliver a major speech Wednesday to the province's truck loggers, who are looking for signs of hope in gloomy times.
"I know this second round of workforce adjustment creates renewed uncertainty for many of you," said Seckel's email. "There is no denying that these are difficult times that continue to test us as an organization. It can be stressful."
Finance Minister Colin Hansen said the B.C. economy is showing signs of recovery but it will take several years for the government to recover from massive revenue losses in the last year.
The government forecast a record budget deficit budget of $2.8 billion for the current fiscal year after projected government revenues dropped by $2 billion last summer.
The deficit forecast for the budget due in March is $1.7 billion.