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.

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Comments on: "Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best" (8)

  1. Not self-centred at all – this is not a good time to be in the public service (speaking from first-hand experience) and the sad reality is that it's gotta be every man/woman for themselves. It really feels as though science is taking the brunt of these cuts. Feels like Rick Mercer wasn't far from the truth (http://youtu.be/rH2_ueCeVv4)

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  2. I echo what x-ine says. It also makes me nervous that the outreach and education funding is being cut – if more people know about the science, there would be more supporters of it, thus making it more difficult to cut funding to it.

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  3. It's good to get reminded yet again that there are no 'safe' places… At least for me that is a good reminder since I tend to glance over at the “govermental sector” as cows glance across that fence and think the grass looks so GREEN ^^

    I'm sad thought that they cut the educations/Awerness and Learning program but hope they keep some? I mean, if there is no aswerness there is always easier to cut the whole thingdown since “no one knows why it wuld be important to keep around” [/end of slighlt paranoid and bitter rant]

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  4. Ohhhh, sorry, Alyssa. I've been in this kind of situation myself and it really sucks. I don't know about you, but I'm fine with change – it's the uncertainty about change that I don't like. I hope you get a good resolution soon.

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  5. Wow, this REALLY sucks! I hope things work out for the best.

    By the way, I share your “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” philosophy and I don't think it's pessimistic at all. If anything, it's realistic and these days, we all have to be prepared for the worst unfortunately.

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  6. x-ine – science does seem to be getting its ass kicked lately. Sorry that you're dealing with it first-hand. That video is scary accurate.

    Lyss – so true. This makes it so much harder for people to know what good science is and WHY we should be doing it.

    Cath – Exactly. I'd be okay if I knew one way or the other. It's the waiting that's killing me.

    Andrea – thanks, me too. I agree that it's more realistic than pessimistic, I'm just always told I'm a pessimist 😛

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  7. Terrible! I'm so sorry for you! Good luck finding some new funding.

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  8. EcoGeoFemme – thank you!

    As an update to all: the grant is for sure cut. My bosses are now looking into other funding options but have told me I'll at least have a job for the rest of the summer. Better than nothing, I guess, but not ideal.

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