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Monday, April 16, 2012

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

As a pessimist, that is my general mantra for life. I always hope things go well, but I'm usually prepared if they don't - or at least I've thought about all the possible outcomes. 

For example, my current contract is up on March 31, 2013. My hope is that more funding will be found to extend my contract, but I am also prepared to start looking for a job a few months before it ends. I don't care if I'm told "not to worry about it - something will work out". I'm not one to sit around, waiting for "fate" to intervene. I'll take things into my own hands, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, I did not think of all the possible outcomes in this situation: last week, the Government of Canada announced that thousands of public service jobs will be cut. This includes a 10% budget cut at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).* Their budget is about $300 million (paltry compared to NASA's budget of about $20 billion - clearly not scaled by population), so cutting 10% is pretty huge. So, apparently the decision was made to completely abolish the CSA Space Awareness & Learning program - the program that funds 100% of my salary. 

We have one more year on our grant. We're hoping that they'll make good on all their current grants and contracts - but looking at our contract with the CSA, it clearly states that they are entitled to change/cancel grants if the federal budget changes. 

So, here's where I start preparing for any number of possibilities, from best- to worst-case scenario:

1. The last year of our grant comes through, and we have a year to come up with other funding sources.

2. The last year of our grant doesn't come through, but we find another source of funding. Depending on the source, this could be a short- or long-term solution, and could potentially mean a pay cut.

3. The last year of our grant doesn't come through, and we can't find another source of funding. I am out of a job. We have to pull Evan out of daycare. We can live on DH's salary alone if we cut back slightly on our spending, but we would not be able to do anything else. I have to find another job.

What's sad is that I'm not the only one going through this. Not only are thousands of government employees losing their jobs, but so will countless of other people who hold contracts or otherwise work closely with government agencies.

It's also frustrating that, by cutting the CSA Space Awareness & Learning program (and other science programs and employees), the government is sending a clear signal to the country that they do not value science research or education. 

It's a frustrating and scary time to live in.

*I know there are loads of other cuts being made, all of which are terrible, but in this post I'll be focusing on the one that is an issue for myself - I'm self-centred that way.