By SHANNON KELLY
In the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park is losing an eighth of its staff, in the North 64 jobs will be lost and across the country more than 1,700 employees will be or have been affected, with their jobs either eliminated or hours reduced. Overall, Parks Canada employees on the chopping block account for almost half of the nearly 4,000 jobs being cut by the federal government this year.
Parks Canada officials have been quick to say that tourists won’t see the impact of these changes. Other interested parties aren’t so sure.
Some local officials have mentioned reducing the opening season or hours at parks and national historic sites. Private tour companies, hoteliers and other business that operate in and around the parks are concerned about their viability with shorter seasons and fewer services due to reduced staff at the parks. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society fears the cuts will pose a threat to endangered wildlife and protected natural areas.
So, will the cuts have significant effect for tourists? It’s hard to know yet, but in small communities hit hard by the cuts that are almost entirely dependent on tourism—Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for example, where more than half of the positions at the island’s national park and historic site are being affected—it’s hard to imagine that “business as usual” will be able to continue.