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Quebec employed 4,000 more civil servants in one year

Photo: Olivier Zuida Archives Le Devoir The state had to call on more staff to cope with “the increase in requests for last resort financial aid [social assistance] particularly concerning asylum seekers and Ukrainian nationals”.

Isabelle Porter in Quebec

1:37 p.m.

  • Quebec

As François Legault prepares to cut bureaucracy, the number of state employees has increased by 5.4% this year. A major increase caused in particular by the increase in requests for social assistance from asylum seekers and Ukrainian refugees.

In 2023-2024, the equivalent of 4,030 full-time employees (FTE) were added to the 74,426 civil servants recorded last year.

An increase that the government attributes in particular to “certain exceptional events”, according to Treasury Board documents presented on Tuesday.

The State notably had to call on more staff at the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity to cope with “the increase in requests for last resort financial assistance [the social assistance] particularly concerning asylum seekers and Ukrainian nationals”.

The Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration also had to call in additional workers to cope with the “significant” growth in demand for francization.

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A missed target without the strike

Other origin of the increase: the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), whose digital transformation has experienced notable setbacks.

Finally, the number of FTEs increased due to the extension of the schedule of state engineers, which went from 35 hours to 37.5 hours per week at the end of the last negotiation.

During the budget presentation, Treasury Board President Sonia Lebel boasted of having limited the increase in the number of civil servants to 1.2%. However, she would not have achieved this without the strike before the holidays. Why ? Because the 1.2% increase takes into account the employees of what we call parapublic, i.e. the education and health networks, which increase the total workforce to 571,880.

Thus, taking into account the fewer hours worked during the strike, i.e. the equivalent of 8,375 FTEs, we arrive at a rate of only 1.2% for all employees (parapublic included) . On the other hand, the number of FTEs among civil servants increased by more than 5%.

“Reducing bureaucracy”

On Wednesday, François Legault, however, suggested that he intended to affect only the public service (civil servants). “We must distinguish those who provide services from those who do not provide services. […] In the last budget, we also added teachers and classroom assistants to the education network. So, there is no question of reducing this part. Now, as for the administrative part, there are places where we can make gains,” he said.

He added that 15,000 civil servants were retiring each year and that it would therefore be possible to have “attrition”.

Faced with a record deficit, Prime Minister Legault declared on Wednesday that he intended to clean up the bureaucracy, without detailing how or where.

“We are going to review spending to reduce bureaucracy, to be able to remove spending that is not effective,” he said.

Next year, the CAQ plans to limit the increase in the civil service to 900 people. A forecast that the Quebec Public Service Union (SFPQ) strongly denounced on Tuesday. According to the latter, the State is already understaffed and is at “breaking point”.

“The CAQ hardly cares about inspections, controls, verification, justice, the security of the population, the granting of financial aid in all forms and the maintenance of the road network, all services offered by public service personnel,” said its spokesperson.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116