No place to hide

Public servants south of the border have more to fear than Rae Days. In Kansas, their pay cheques may be delayed; in California, they may not get a pay cheque at all as Governor Terminator does what he does best:

Governor prepares to lay off 10,000

There’s a fair bit of obliviousness among civil servants in Canada — so far. Harper did try to squeeze the collective bargaining process in the original fiscal update in November, and the Ontario public service has been subject to a halfhearted hiring “freeze” since the beginning of December, which seems to only prevent new positions from being added and filled. The bad memories of the massive federal cuts in the 1990s and the 5,000 civil servants who were axed as part of the Rae Days package have faded from memory for some, and for a younger cohort that believes there’s nothing safer than a job with the public service, aren’t known at all.

However, tumbling revenue has to be offset by decreased spending somewhere. Laid off workers in the private sector and bankrupt companies don’t exactly enhance the tax base. There are 66,000 provincial public servants in Ontario (and another 80,000 or so feds, if we assume the majority of NCR employees live on this side of the Ottawa river), and they don’t come cheap.