Climate scientists evaporating under Trudeau, not Harper
OTTAWA — The Justin Trudeau government is on pace this year to preside over the biggest-ever recorded cut to the number of federal environment scientists.
Statistics Canada earlier this year forecast the number of scientific and technological personnel at Environment and Climate Change Canada would be reduced this fiscal year by nearly 11% — or 406 jobs — compared to 2015-2016. StatsCan started counting federal scientists in 2000.
Officials with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office said late Monday that StatsCan’s forecast is based on data provided before the 2016 budget and that, as Environment Canada got a spending bump of $120 million this year in the budget, more scientists are likely to be hired.
Environment Canada officials, though, could not say how many or when.
Fewer scientists under the Trudeau government works against a narrative that the previous Conservative government was anti-science. A headcount by the Sun shows the Stephen Harper government did not appear to have singled out scientists for cuts and, in fact, at Environment Canada, it worked to preserve scientific jobs.
As the civil service grew in Harper’s early years, to so too did the number of scientists, peaking in 2011-2012 with 39,189 scientists employed across all government departments.
Then, as the civil service was trimmed after 2011 to help fight the deficit, the number of scientists on the public payroll fell in rough proportion to the overall civil service.
That said, the Conservative axe fell a little lighter among Environment Canada scientists. The headcount there did dip by 6% in 2010-12 but then grew by 9% the next year. And by 2014-15 — another other Harper year — the number of scientists at Environment Canada peaked at an all-time high of 3,830.
The current forecast has just 3,386 science jobs at Environment Canada, which would be nearly 12% fewer than the peak employed two years ago by the Harper government.
Toronto Sun BY DAVID AKIN, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU CHIEF
August 8th 2016