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Jim Prentice’s senior staff take 5% pay cut

Alberta premier Jim Prentice
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY – Alberta Premier Jim Prentice announced Wednesday his senior political staff would be taking a five per cent salary cut, effective March 31.

“As we address the budgetary challenges facing our province, my cabinet and my office will continue to lead by example. I appreciate my staff’s willingness to step up,” said Prentice in a statement.

The government said this would save more than $104,000 each year, and was done “in support of the commitment to fiscal discipline.” Prentice’s own five per cent pay cut, the closure of international offices and “restraints on government procurement, travel, conference sponsorships, and printing” were listed as other cost-cutting measures.

In response, Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth called it a “badly needed concession” after weeks of pressure from Albertans and the opposition.

“The reality is Mr. Prentice’s office has ballooned to one of the most expensive in Canada and still maintains among the most expensive salaries for senior staff across government.  Recent budget estimates from Ontario show Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office total $2.7 million, or about $1.5 million cheaper than the cost ($4.2 million) of Mr. Prentice’s office after today’s announcement,” said Forsyth in a statement.

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She claimed more needs to be done to reduce wages and staffing across all managerial levels in government.

Liberal Leader David Swann called the cuts a “symbolic gesture” used to cover what he called Prentice’s “pending attack on hardworking frontline workers.”

“Make no mistake, no reduction to the salaries of highly paid senior political staff will justify asking our teachers, nurses, or paramedics to pay the price for years of PC fiscal mismanagement,” said Swann in a statement.

“We have seen this cynical and sorry tactic from PC premiers in the past as they have repeatedly slashed the budgets of front line services to respond to recurring and predictable drops in the price of oil.”

READ MORE: Alberta cabinet agrees to take 5% wage cut