28 February 2013
Ottawa — Today, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) announced cuts to 24 positions; 19 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada are being laid off. Affected departments at the NGC include Information Technology Services, Protection Services, Communications, and Library and Archives, amongst others.
“This is just another example of cuts directly impacting Canadian families,” said Doug Marshall, National President of the Union of National Employees. “The National Gallery is fast becoming a skeleton of what it once was. With the recent loss of guides, these cuts are robbing young minds of valuable opportunities to learn beyond the classroom.”
The timing of these cuts is particularly odd, given that the NGC did not face any operational budgetary reductions this year, and just finished hosting the successful Van Gogh: Up Close exhibit last summer. That exhibition was the fourth best attended since the Gallery moved to its current location in 1988, with over 230,100 paying visitors. Furthermore, attendance in 2011-12 was 10 percent higher than in the previous fiscal year.
“We represent members who are passionate about our national treasures and the services they provide to Canadians,” said Larry Rousseau, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC in the National Capital Region. “The Gallery’s director, Mark Mayer, needs to explain himself. How can these layoffs be justified in the context of the Gallery’s successful exhibits and stable budget?”
These cuts come after similar staff and service cuts at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Agriculture Museum and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in December 2011.
In the context of budgetary cutbacks mandated by the government in 2008-10, moreover, the NGC laid off over 30 staff, including a number of educators and guides. As a result, school visits to the Gallery are no longer led by knowledgeable guides, and various popular youth education and development programs were terminated.