I'm not a "small government" kinda guy... mostly because that particular term doesn't actually mean anything. There's nothing quite as moronic as telling everyone that will listen that you're against too much government, or too much tax, or too much waste. No shit.
I think a robust public service is incredibly important. The policy capacity of a country is a vital component to well run government. The Liberals figured that out after Martin slashed and burned a wide swath of Ottawa, and so, for the past few years, the PS has undergone a revitalization, an attempt to make public servants proud to serve again. More importantly, an attempt to make people want to serve again. A key component of this has always been to offer benefits that one can't get in the private sector. To attract the best and brightest you need to provide work people want to do and perks that they can't get elsewhere. It's a pretty simple idea, and it's why the foaming at the mouth of conservatives at those pampered public servants has always been especially annoying to me. Frankly, I've always assumed it's just jealousy.
However, times change, and our times are shockingly different to the times of our parents and grandparents. It was once a given that employers would provide for their employees after a lifetime of service. Now, as anyone new to the workforce will tell you, you're beyond lucky to find an employer that will match your RRSP contributions.
The reality, as the C.D. Howe Institute is saying, is that the public service is now completely out of step with the rest of the job market. We can argue about whether their benefits are too good, or whether the private sector no longer provides enough, but in the end it doesn't really matter, the gulf is there. So, as the CPC turns towards the PS (I picture Harper and Flaherty sitting down together with fat red markers and Wagner playing in the background), I think that the pension deals struck with future bureaucrats are fair game. A significant increase in contributions is completely fair, not overly onerous on well-paid civil servants, and it certainly won't scare people off from applying to government jobs. When looking for savings, the government must trim the fat but stay well clear of the bone. This policy just makes sense.
4 days ago