By Paige MacPerson
CALGARY, AB: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says the Alberta government’s wage freeze for non-unionized employees is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough.
“It’s good to see the government looking for savings in wages, but it does little to fill the hole of the government’s $8.9 billion deficit,” said CTF Alberta Director Paige MacPherson. “Unfortunately the economic realities we face call for meaningful spending cuts, not symbolic gestures.”
The government estimates this wage freeze will save $28.5 million per year.
Alberta currently has 200,445 government employees in the “Alberta Public Service,” according to the Alberta 2015 budget. The government is spending $24.9 billion on public sector compensation in 2015-16, or one half of its total consolidated expense.
These savings represent 0.1 per cent of what taxpayers are spending on compensation for government employees this year.
“Government wages and compensation is the right place to be looking for savings,” said MacPherson. “If the government was trying to go on a savings trip, they’ve identified the right place on the map. But they haven’t packed their bags or gotten on the plane.”
The CTF recommends a 10 per cent reduction in compensation for all government employees, saving taxpayers $2.5 billion every year.
“It’s time for the government to fall in line with the realities faced by the rest of the province,” said MacPherson. “Look at the oil patch: companies aren’t freezing salaries for 3.5 per cent of their workers. They’re slashing wages and struggling with layoffs.”
On average, Alberta’s government employees are each paid $7,526 more than the national average, according to Statistics Canada.
“Reducing compensation for government employees across the board would simply bring Alberta in line with the rest of the country,” said MacPherson. “To make any dent in the province’s deficit, the government must reduce the wages of unionized workers as well.”