News Canadian Travellers Can Use III – Job Loss Edition

Hi gang – it was great to talk to you guys yesterday. I hope your trip to the Great Pyramid at Giza went well. Joanne and I happened to catch a special on Discovery Channel last night about pyramids, and this episode focused on the Great Pyramid, so we had sort of virtual tour with you guys. Can’t wait to read your account of your trip.

Back here at home, we are in the deep freeze again, with the temperatures hovering around -32. Depressing, but a fact of life given where we live. However, it is supposed to be up to 2 above this weekend, so we are finally in for some really nice weather.

March Break starts today so Ian is spending his days at the Kearlys this week. I will take some time off next week to hang out with the kids at home.

The big news on the home front is the job cuts that come with the GNWT budget reductions. They are pretty brutal so far. In Inuvik, they have lost 31 positions at various departments so even the Premier’s home town isn’t being spared. Needless to say, local people are unhappy.

Even the hometown of Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland is not immune to sweeping territorial job cuts, Inuvik Mayor Derek Lindsay said.

Lindsay said Inuvik is set to lose 31 government workers as part of 135 proposed job cuts, which are part of Roland’s plan to slash $135 million from the territorial budget over the next two years.

Most of the job losses would come from the Arctic Tern Young Offender Facility, which the government wants to close down. Such cuts could cost Inuvik up to $3 million a year, Lindsay said.

“That’s a horrendous economic impact on the town of Inuvik,” he said Monday. “Inuvik’s economy is very soft right now, and this was really a bad time to get hit with something like this.”

MLAs will get to debate the proposed budget cuts and job losses, as well as the closure of the Arctic Tern facility, when they debate the draft budget in June.

But before that, Lindsay said, he wants to see the territorial government consult with the town on the closure of the correctional centre.

One Inuvik-based government employee, who did not want to be named, said Roland — who was acclaimed to his fourth term as MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake in last year’s territorial election — has “sold us down the river” with his proposed cuts.

Other communities still haven’t heard, but Smith got our news last week, and it is fairly painful, but so far not on the scale Inuvik suffered. Here’s the scoop:

The big casualty was Justice, where they amalgamated the adminsitration of the Territorial Women’s Correctional Centre and River Ridge, resulting in 5.5 jobs being lost. I don’t know exactly who is losing their jobs, although I know Grant Paziak is one of them. Kind of tough given that he and Nikita have a new baby.

At the airport, Bill Hval and Freda Schumann are laid off, and the airport will be administrated from Yellowknife.

One position is gone from Public Works, and one from ENR. I don’t know who. ITI was spared any cuts locally.

The job losses look less severe for Smith right now, but that is because all schools in the NWT and the College have been spared in this round of cuts. We are on the block next year, so Smith will get more bad news then.

That’s all the news so far on the job cutback front for now.

In other Canadian news, in a shocking development, the PCs won a huge majority in the Alberta provincial election. Dazed Albertans welcomed the return of their corporate overlords as they participated in their four year parody of democracy. Everyone predicted that the PCs would lose seats under white bread leader Ed Stelmach, but he beat the predictions and won ten more seats than Ralph Klein did in his last election.

Speaking of elections, apparently there is an election going on in the banana republic to the south. John McCain clinched the Republican nomination last night, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to slug it out. The Democratic primary is going to be long and brutal as both candidates are basically tied at this point.

And that is it for this edition of NCTCU. Get those Africa pictures up soon! I am sure I am not the only one waiting for them. Have fun and travel safe, folks.

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