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Budget cuts hit Western Arctic
Inuvik-based Parks Canada office loses eight positions

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012

Federal budget cuts have caused eight positions to be cut from Parks Canada's Western Arctic Field Unit, which has its main office in Inuvik.

All Parks Canada employees here had meetings Monday, April 30 to learn about the fate of their positions. It is not immediately clear what effect these cuts will have on Parks Canada's presence in the region, said Dan Frandsen, acting field unit superintendent for Parks Canada in Inuvik.

"It doesn't happen immediately. Even people who are surplus are not immediately out of a job today or tomorrow. They get a period of time to decide what options they want to take," said Frandsen.

Those options range from putting themselves on a priority listing in case there is an opening in another area that Parks Canada serves, to taking a severance package and leaving.

The Inuvik office acts as the home base for the Western Arctic Field Unit, that covers most of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, said Frandsen, and includes Tuktut Nogait and Aulavik national parks in the NWT, and Ivvavik National Park in the Yukon.

Before the cuts, the field unit had 42 positions. However, this included vacant positions, half-time positions, and some term positions, said Frandsen.

"It's significant," said Frandsen.

"But, as I said, some of those were non-encumbered positions. There are certainly employees who live in Inuvik who will be affected by it."

Of the eight positions cut, about four were being held for employees who are on long-term leave, said Frandsen, so they won't be affected until they try to return to work.

One employee opted to take voluntary retirement when they learned of the cuts, and one person had their position reduced from full-time to seasonal.

Of the two positions that were surplus, one employee has received "a reasonable job offer" from Parks Canada, according to Frandsen, which leaves one employee of the Western Arctic Field Unit who was displaced by the budget cuts.

As far as how these cuts will show in the day-to-day operations of Parks Canada in the Western Arctic, Frandsen said this largely remains to be seen.

"The majority of the losses were related to natural resource management," said Frandsen.

Since the ecologically monitoring program will be reduced, it will affect Parks Canada's ability to monitor impacts of industry and global warming on the national parks.

"We won't be able to as easily monitor the effects of whatever happens to the environment in the parks," said Frandsen.

"We may not be able to detect change as it's happening."

Representatives from the Public Service Alliance of Canada were not available to comment as of press time.

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