One thing to remember in a federal budget

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The truth behind the budget

Never trust what is written in black and white in the budget.

You have to read between the lines.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget yesterday is no exception.

Flaherty said the government will be tossing 19,200 civil servants out the door.

Great news for all those people who don't like public servants - nothing but a bunch of thumb-suckers.

Flaherty was happy to bask in the praise of the conservative base that votes for Stephen Harper.

But under some further questioning, Flaherty admitted that 7,200 of 19,200 public service departures will be "voluntary" which means they get a nice severance package, or a scholarship or financial assistance to open a business. Now that brings the numbers down to 12,000.

And the departures are over the next three years, not all out this year. So now we are down to 4,000 workers out the door, which is very different from 19,200.

But it doesn't end there. If the same thing happens again this year as did back in 1995, the year of the last major cuts, we could find the same people sitting at the same desk doing the same work, even after being laid off a week earlier.

"What are you doing here, Joe? I thought you had left us last Friday. "

"Yes, well they called up over the weekend and told me to be here this morning. There's just no one else who seems to know the files for the project. "

And Joe, comfortably ensconced at his old desk, is doing the same job now except that he's working on contract now.

After all, someone has to do work. It doesn't stop just because Flaherty had a budget.



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