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National Public Service Week is June 9-15, 2019. This is a week to recognize the value of public services in all our lives and to acknowledge the contributions of public service workers. We sometimes take our public services for granted, but try to imagine our lives without them. The truth is, we depend on our public services every day – and if we really think about it, public services are about being part of something bigger than ourselves.
As Canadians, we collectively own our public services and together our common wealth protects and creates opportunities for everyone. Think about the role government plays in improving the economy for instance. Governments, through our public services, provide the social and economic infrastructure required for economies to thrive. We need roads, bridges, sewers, and water supply systems to help private business produce goods and services and get them to market. Through public services, we ensure these products are safe for consumers. We also need schools to educate our citizens (the workforce); health care to keep us healthy so we can contribute; and a social safety net to protect us when we are injured (Workers Compensation), unemployed (Employment Insurance), impoverished (Social Services), and elderly (Canada Pension).
In short, our public services are tied directly to the quality of life we experience as Islanders and Canadians. In fact, regardless of how much we earn privately as individuals, we each receive about $17,000 worth of public services per year, or $40,000 for the average family. This is a big part of what makes us Canadian – we all have access to public services regardless of our income. For example, if we get sick, we can depend on our universally funded public health care system, where the health services you need are not based on your ability to pay. As a result, we have a stronger and more stable society than those societies where only the wealthy are truly protected.
As Canadians, we value principles of fairness and equal opportunity, and we know that public services help meet everyone’s basic needs. We understand that because public services belong to us, the institutions that deliver them are accountable to us. This means that we have a say about how public services are delivered, and through our democratic institutions we can continually work to improve our quality of life as Islanders and Canadians.
In recognition of Public Service Week, I thank our members and all public service employees for making a difference in the lives of Islanders by ensuring our communities are safe, secure and healthy. You make Prince Edward Island a better place to live and work every day.
Karen Jackson, president of the P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees,