INTERNATIONAL: Canada union uproar over govt PR cuts

VICTORIA: The government of British Columbia, Canada, has come under fire from an employee union angered by its decision to axe 300 communications staff.

According to reports in newswire The Canadian Press, the BC Government and Services' Employees Union has vowed to fight the redundancy plan, which it claims will see 300 comms staff laid off - starting from this month - and replaced by 180 political appointees.

The BC Government announced it was restructuring the comms department earlier this year in a bid to 'do a better job of communicating its priorities, policies and actions'.

Cost-cutting was also cited as a motive for the revamp.

Alongside the redundancies, the overhaul has also seen the government's annual comms budget slashed from £14.9m to just £2.1m.

According to executive director of the newly created public affairs bureau Andy Orr, the previous comms structure 'has not adequately served the government's communications needs and fiscal requirements'.

'It has been too large and bureaucratic to properly serve British Columbians' desire for timely information about the decisions, changes and improvements that government is making,' he said.

The new division - put in place at the end of last month - is divided into a comms division and support services and operations division.

Orr is now supported by a media relations team - set up to provide 24/7 support to ministries - based in Victoria and Vancouver.

A media monitoring service has also been unveiled and nine ministries will have their own dedicated comms directors, in addition to the centralised function.

The support services and operations division will provide services including graphic design, news release distribution, events support and human resources management.

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