Civil servant overview

Good article today in the T&T on the NB civil service today.

Since 2003, the provincial public service has added 2,414 employees, representing a 5.4 per cent increase in staffing.

No increase in population but we needed 2,414 new public workers. At an average of $60k, that’s roughly $145 million more payroll per year. I’m just askin’.

The public service is broken down into three parts, including 11,505 traditional civil servants, 16,734 working in education and 18,796 health-care workers.

47,305 public workers. Not including the federal government and local governments which brings total public sector employment to close to 70,000. And this doesn’t include the government subsidized jobs like post-secondary education (several thousand more).

I don’t have a problem with a large civil service. I believe in the importance of having good public services but I have to scratch my head as to why we need thousands of more public workers since the late 1990s when there has been no population growth.

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0 Responses to Civil servant overview

  1. nbt says:

    I agree David as a good public service doesn’t necessarily mean a big public service. It must be a lean, mean fighting machine.

    On a more comical note, how about the spin out of Freddy (population secretariat) that New Brunswick is a multicultural province. Did Byrne read Ontario’s numbers by mistake?

  2. David Campbell says:

    I think they want to leverage the ‘bi-cultural’ aspects of New Brunswick but to say multicultural is a huge stretch. The best they could do would be to zoom in on the few success stories and use them to make the case for more.

  3. mikel says:

    There is no knowing what an ‘optimal’ level of ‘civil service’ is without examining the jobs of every civil servant. That SHOULD be media’s job, but it hasn’t been doing that.

    You already know the answer to your question, you wear glasses in your picture so must be smart:)

    Every province is adding to health care workers, and even now want many many more. There are relevant questions there though, in the nineties nursing administrators were popping up while actual nurses were disappearing. Part of that was the increasing litigousness of the society (which may well be deserved).

    In education the same is true. The question is whether you can get rid of administrators without getting rid of teachers. This government is doing the opposite, adding more bureaucrats to replace public school boards. However, it is clear the province needs MANY more teachers.

    Back to health care, I was reading a health study that showed that New Brunswick’s spending on health as a percentage of total spending is third lowest in the country, so you can’t very well gripe about that.

    Where it changes is health care spending as a percentage of GDP which puts NB way up there, but again, thats more because of low GDP than high health care spending.

    Back to education, I haven’t read any studies lately, but again, here in ontario per student funding is around 10 grand a year, thats what private school costs. THe last time I checked new brunswick was about one third the level.

    So again, you have a hard row to hoe. The province is already at the bottom of the heap, so to argue that it has to go lower is a pretty hard thing to convince people of..and rightly so.

    However, what is lacking, as usual, is any in depth media analysis of these department to SEE just how much ‘waste’ there is. You’ll notice that by combining RHA to two from eight will only bring about marginal savings, from the govenrments own statements, so I suspect its already as ‘lean’ as it can get.

    Below that and you are basically kicking yourself, its hard enough to get…well, ANYBODY to move or immigrate, imagine if the educational and health system were even WORSE. Then you could forget economic development at all.

  4. nbt says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    Not that I disagree with a large civil service but you have to live to your means. With our tax base shrinking as our population declines, it hardly seems right to be having substantial increases in government workers.

    A contributing factor is duplication of services.

    Dupliction due to bilingualism (F/E hospital boards, F/E hospitals within spitting distance of each other, F/E university, F/E community colleges, F/E schools; you get the idea, there is at least two of everything.

    Add to that the duplictaion (triplication?) because we have 3 cities rather than one metro area (like NS) and the duplication to have things in the north like we have in the south.

    I could go on but the fact is we have a lot of duplication at many levels due to our circumstances.

    I am not suggesting this is a bad thing, but it is a luxury. Luxuries are nice; when you can afford them. It is time to look at ways to afford them (besides dipping deeper into the taxpayers that are left) or set priorities and make some choices. Some attempts are being made with efforts like amalgamation of hospital boards and a failed effort at reducing duplication with universities but we need to do much more.

  6. mikel says:

    The above is an often quoted argument but one that is patently false. Education is not a ‘luxury’, and bilingualism is not a ‘luxury’.

    Here, some comparitive statistics are useful, and far too absent from the media.

    Spending on Education (percent of government spending)

    Prince Edward Island: 25%
    Newfoundland: 20%
    Nova Scotia: 22%


    So, IF bilingualism and ‘duplication’ were such a big issue, then New Brunswick would be spending about double the other maritime provinces on education. In fact, it spends the LOWEST, BY FAR. Sorry, but that really needs caps.

    It is not a question of resources, it is a question of priorities. A budget is a budget, if government spends it in one area over another, thats a political decision.

    Here, its very obvious that the province is not interested in having the best educational system even in the maritimes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mikel raises a good point;the departmental budgets do not seem to match the fact that we have, in several places, a french school nearby an english school and a french hospital nearby an english hospital. The reason for this is that the education budgets and health budgets do not include the costs of constructing and maintaining buildings; these costs come under another department & budget which can be misleading. This makes it quite possible to have lots of schools and hospitals but, if underfunded at the department level, an inadequate number of teachers and doctors.

    However, French/English is not the issue. As suggested by the above two posts, in the absence of infinite financial resources, priorities and choices are necessary. Frankly, bilingualism is totally inadequate. To create a globally competitive work force we should be multilingual and be teaching at least one Asian language (perhaps Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese) and probably Spanish as well as French. Unfortunately, we are not likely to have a progressive multilingual language program anytime soon due to resource limitations.

    There is no doubt that NB’s small population (like several other provinces) creates economy of scale issues with delivering government services. It starts with having 55 MLAs representing 750,000 people; Ontario has 16 times the population and only 107 MLAs. This on its own is not significant but the high proportion of representation is reflective of the level of government service and the number of government employees and helps to explain why the civil service is growing while the population is shrinking.