26 September 2023

CANADA: PS to accept pay and job cuts

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The Canadian province of Alberta’s Public Servants must accept a curb on salary increases and a reduction in full-time jobs to reduce their cost to the taxpayers, a report to the Canadian Province’s Government has found.

The report, prepared by a panel headed by former Saskatchewan Minister of Finance, Janice MacKinnon (pictured), dedicated eight pages to public sector compensation, bargaining and size.

The panel had been tasked with examining Alberta’s finances and proposing ways to reduce spending.

It found the Alberta Government spent C$26.9 billion (A$29.7 billion) on public sector compensation in 2018–19, or about 55 per cent of the Provincial operating budget.

That figure included teachers, nurses, doctors and other PS employees.

“Public Servants work hard to provide services and deliver programs … [but] have benefited from generous compensation and other benefits including during the recent recession,” the panel wrote.

“They need to participate in the Government’s restraint plan.”

President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, Gil McGowan said the report was founded on “hatred for the public sector”.

“The panel has gone out of its way to make its observations and recommendations sound reasonable, but make no mistake, what it is proposing is nothing short of a radical reordering of not only the public sector in Alberta but the entire Provincial economy,” Mr McGowan said.

“Right-wing ideologues have fantasised about implementing blueprints like this in other jurisdictions, but they’ve never actually been able to go this far.”

The panel recommended the Government consider more strategic and creative approaches to public sector bargaining, such as tying salary increases to those in other Provinces.

Despite Supreme Court decisions limiting the power of Provinces to impose collective agreements, the panel argued the Government could use legislative mandates to exercise wage restraint.

Edmonton, 4 September 2019

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