With no fat left to trim on the job front, former federal employees hope the region will escape the worst of 19,200 positions a penny-pinching Conservative budget has discarded in an effort to cut spending.
And advocates for a CBC outlet in the city have been assured the project will proceed even with the Tories slashing 10 per cent of the broadcaster's annual budget.
The Tories' opponents aren't impressed with document, saying Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is only slowing the rate of spending and hurting those who are most at risk in the process.
The budget, for the most part, is careful to obscure exactly where the greatest pain will come from spending cuts, while broadly outlining that some 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce will be lost.
Ruth Fane, an NDP party stalwart and retired federal employee, said the Liberals cut jobs in the region to the bone during the mid-1990s, leaving little room to slash further.
"I don't think there's any fat left to trim," she said. "I don't even know what's left for them to cut."
Fane understands the majority of the jobs will be disappearing closest to the capital region, she said.
Randy Nelson, a retired fishery officer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the general practice is to cut positions through attrition.
"Rather than lay people off, they could say they won't hire any vacancies," he said.
That's the good news. The downside is there are now only 175 enforcement officers in the B.C. and the Yukon policing an area that sees half the violations in all of Canada — a difficult task, said Nelson.
"They could get creative and change positions around, too," he said.
Flaherty's budget eliminates the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, as well as the youth program Katimavik.
A travelling leadership program for civil servants is now gone as is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's own public appointments commission from his 2006 campaign platform.
Other significant cuts will only be felt as individual departments wield the knife internally. MP Cathy McLeod said there are roughly 200 federal positions in Kamloops and, if any are phased out, the process will begin in the coming months.
As for the CBC, Pam Ashbury of Save our CBC Kamloops spoke with officials at the broadcaster's Vancouver office on Monday. She was told the budget cut was anticipated and, as long as the amount didn't exceed five to 10 per cent, the project would proceed, she said.
"These things typically aren't surprises to administrators," said Ashbury. "They don't work in a cave. They understood cuts were coming."
The CBC has scouted locations and identified potential staff. If the broadcaster doesn't set up shop in Kamloops, Ashbury will be disappointed.
"The effort has been put forth to put things in motion," she said. "These are some pretty serious steps."
Flaherty is trimming $5.2 billion in annual federal spending — scrapping the money-losing penny in the process — while raising the age of eligibility for old age security to 67 from 65, starting a decade from now.
That means anyone 54 and older is still eligible for OAS. Lynn Lawritsen, 59, is thankful she falls within the cutoff.
Lawritsen collects two disability pensions, one of which runs out when she turns 65. She would have been hurting if she couldn't receive OAS at that time, she said.
Her partner makes enough to pay for housing, but she anticipated having to cut many expenses and parking her car in order to survive on what would have equated to $1,000 a month, said Lawritsen.
Jordan Bateman, B.C. communications director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said most of Flaherty's cuts aren't cuts at all, just a decrease in the Conservatives' growth in spending, which has been on the rise since the party took power.
As for the job cuts, the Tories added 40,000 positions since taking power, so the 19,200 that have been eliminated don't cut too deep, he said.
McLeod said the document delivers on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's pledge to balance the budget by making practical and sensible cuts.
But Michael Crawford, the NDP's candidate during the 2011 campaign, said the budget breaks promises Harper made to Canadians that he wouldn't cut health care transfers or pensions.
"Making Canadians wait two more years for Old Age Security means that more seniors in this country will be living in poverty," said Crawford.
Word on the Street: Do you approve of the Tories' plan to abolish the penny?
Emma O’Grady: I think it’s a good thing. Pennies are so inconvenient. If you don’t have them, no one will miss it.
Dean Osborne: I don’t have a problem with that. I went to Australia years ago and they don’t have pennies. It’s the lowest denomination.
Pauline Chapman: I think it’s ridiculous. Everything is going to cost more. Even if it’s a penny, it’ll cost more.
Patrick Haugen: I think things will be better. There will be less change in your pocket and everything will cost as it should.