Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Feb. 13, 2012.
Credits: (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)
OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has the backing of Canadians to slash federal jobs, according to a new poll that suggests reducing the deficit should be the cornerstone of the government's upcoming budget.
Flaherty is expected to announce tough measures to find annual savings of at least $4 billion a year - a move public sector unions fear will lead to stacks of pink slips after years of bloat under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
An Abacus Data poll suggests 61% of 1,209 online respondents support job cuts to balance the books and erase the $32-billion deficit.
The poll found 65% believe balancing the budget and reducing the federal deficit should be a very high or high priority. Eighteen percent said they oppose taking an axe to federal workers, while 21% neither support nor oppose job cuts.
Conservatives (73%) are most in favour of chopping while Liberals are least supportive at 53% followed by New Democrats at 55%.
"The unions representing federal public servants have a tough sell arguing against job cuts since many Canadians perceive public servants to be overpaid and less productive than workers in the private sector," Abacus CEO David Coletto said.
Many Canadians (41%) expressed concern about the impact of job cuts on government services while 30% pointed to their potential impact on the economy. Twenty-two percent said they aren't at all concerned about the impact of cuts and 5% indicated concern for bureaucrats losing their jobs.
The Canadian government employs about 450,000 people, including military and RCMP staff.
The survey also asked how the government should go about clearing its red ink - whether through higher taxes while maintaining spending or cutting spending and leaving taxes alone. Most said they prefer spending cuts over tax hikes.
The margin of error for a random survey of this size is 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The poll was conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.