They called it the Rally for Saskatchewan. Approximately 800 public sector union members from across the province held a rally in opposition to planned cuts to public sector compensation and Bill 40, which would define privatization and allow 49 per cent of a Crown corporation to be sold.
“We haven’t had a raise in four years. We’ve been zero per cent, zero per cent, and zero per cent. We can’t take any more cuts. We barely make enough as it is now,” Elaine Wood said.
Wood is a group home worker from North Battleford and a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We want to keep our Crown corporations and our public services public. We won’t stand for it, so that’s why we’re out here making some noise,” SEIU-West vice-president Neil Colemin said.
The government has made no secret that they’re looking at reducing public sector compensation as they try to balance a $1.2 billion deficit in the upcoming provincial budget.
On Tuesday, Premier Brad Wall announced the province hopes to achieve a 3.5 per cent compensation decrease across the entire public sector. He said this would result in savings of $250 million.
Wall added that MLAs will also be taking a 3.5 per cent pay cut in an effort to lead by example.
The Board of Internal Economy was scheduled to approve this reduction Wednesday morning, but the meeting was boycotted by NDP members.
NDP caucus chair David Forbes said they support the MLA pay decrease, but don’t want to seem like they are giving “rubber stamp” clearance to the civil servant cut.
The NDP are proposing a 20 per cent cut to ministerial bonuses, instead of the 3.5 per cent cut in the Saskatchewan Party plan.