At a time when tens of thousands of Albertans are out of work and the province’s unemployment rate has reached a 20-year high, the NDP government continues to put ideology over good policy and has negotiated new pay raises for public sector employees, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
While Premier Notley had ruled out opening existing contracts to freeze wages, she had never indicated that the government would be offering new raises to public sector workers. Yet, little more than three weeks ago Alberta Health Services went to arbitration with local 58 of the AUPE offering raises. While the union asked the arbitrator for two years of increases at and over 2 per cent, AHS offered up 1 per cent raises for each of three years.
“I am deeply concerned that this government is offering any public sector raises when we are facing record deficits of more than $10 billion and private sector wages are taking such a beating,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “This won’t sit well with Albertans. That the NDP government is coming to the bargaining table offering raises is completely out of touch with what is really happening in Alberta.”
Wildrose has called for a common sense wage freeze to be negotiated with the public sector.
“Albertans are looking to the NDP government to recognize the economic downturn we are in,” Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister Grant Hunter said. “By setting a standard policy of wage freezes, it will send a message that this government understands the current fiscal realities, and is looking for ways to rein in spending. Anything else is bargaining in bad faith against Alberta’s taxpayers, and insulting to Albertans who have lost their jobs.”
Wildrose will continue to look for ways to ensure that the province’s budget addresses the current economic downturn, the worst the province has seen since the 1980s.