Gateway Gazette

Arbitration Awards: Minister Toews

Finance Minister Travis Toews issued the following statement on three arbitration decisions involving the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

“Today, a provincial board of arbitration awarded no increase to Auxiliary Nursing Care workers, a one per cent increase to Alberta Public Service workers and a one per cent increase to health care workers in General Support Services.

“This binding arbitration process agreed to by the previous government resulted in public sector wage decisions that further challenge the urgent need to fix Alberta’s overspending problem while ensuring the long-term sustainability of high quality public services Albertans rely on.

“These increases – while much less than the 6.5 per cent to nearly eight per cent increases the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees was seeking – will mean an additional $35 million annual expenditure for public sector compensation. As indicated in the last budget, there is no new money for public sector raises over the course of our fiscal plan.

“As a result of these decisions government will need to consider additional steps to balance our budget and get our fiscal house in order. These unfortunately include the potential for adjustments to workforce levels, as well as finding efficiencies in program service delivery.

“As the MacKinnon panel identified, public sector compensation makes up more than half of government expenses and in many cases wages are substantially higher than other large provinces.

“We remain steadfast. We will not ask Alberta taxpayers to further fund public sector raises when far too many workers in the private sector have lost their jobs or have seen significant cuts in their wages.

“Wage restraint will be of paramount importance as we enter into new collective bargaining negotiations in 2020.

“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Alberta’s public sector workers who deliver so many of the vital services Albertans rely on. The need for restraint does not diminish our recognition of the hard work they do for Albertans, but government is expected to be responsible stewards of the public’s tax dollars and get our province’s finances under control.”

President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement about the arbitration decision involving the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.

“This independent public sector wage arbitration outcome of zero increase reflects the current economic realities in the province. This decision helps keep government on track with our commitment to Albertans to prioritize service delivery over salary increases for public sector workers.

“It is also respectful of the economic challenges so many other Albertans have recently faced – seeing their wages decrease or disappear altogether.

“Public sector compensation accounts for more than half of all government expenses and in many cases public sector workers in Alberta earn significantly more than peers in other provinces.

“Sustaining high quality services requires common sense collective agreements that over time bring Alberta’s spending on public sector wages in line with other provinces.

“This fiscal restraint and discipline must continue as we enter into new collective bargaining negotiations in 2020. The need for wage restraint does not diminish our recognition for the hard work public sector workers do for Albertans.

“Our goal as we move forward with upcoming negotiations is to do so cooperatively, not combatively.”

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