Hundreds gather at Alberta Federation of Labour convention in Calgary

WATCH: Labour groups gathered on Saturday for the annual Alberta Federation of Labour convention in Calgary. They are worried about jobs and wages under a new UCP government. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.​

The United Conservative Party government fired back after Alberta labour groups and Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley raised concerns Saturday that program and job cuts could be looming.

Around 300 people attended the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) convention in Calgary on Saturday, which included speeches on the economy and the future of jobs in the province under a UCP government.

“We are very worried that what we are going to see as early as the first session of the legislature, which starts within weeks, is an unprecedented attack on the rights of working people in this province,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.

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McGowan pointed to a study done for the organization during the election campaign that focused on the employment impacts of a UCP government. He said Premier Jason Kenney’s economic plan requires a cut of more than $7 billion in annual program spending by the fourth year to eliminate the deficit by 2023.

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READ MORE: Jason Kenney and UCP promise $714M budget surplus by 2023

McGowan said Kenney’s proposed corporate tax cuts have to come from somewhere, suggesting that it will lead to nearly 60,000 lost jobs over a four-year period.

“Even with Donald Trump south of the border, this right-wing menu for policies is a menu that actually makes our economy and our society sicker, not healthier,” McGowan said.

Kenney’s response

The Alberta government said Sunday that the province is facing a jobs crisis with staggering unemployment.

“Calgary and Edmonton have the second and third highest unemployment rates in the country, respectively,” said Christine Myatt, the premier’s press secretary.

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“We must take bold action to reignite our economy and bring jobs back to Alberta. Our plan, which received a resounding endorsement from Albertans on election day, will do just that. We will continue to protect the rights of working people, and will take common-sense steps to reverse the job-killing policies of the NDP that have seen more than a net 24,000 private sector job losses during their tenure.”​

Notley talks working class

Notley told the crowd on Saturday that Alberta’s new premier is not interested in standing up for working people.

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“Whether he is talking about taking the minimum wage from young people and potentially jeopardizing women who are getting minimum wage or clawing back overtime pay, overtime provisions — that’s going to cost thousands of dollars to lots of folks, primarily in the construction, oil and gas [sectors],” Notley said.

Those attending the conference expressed their concerns about possible changes to the minimum wage, farm safety legislation and the potential of public sector job losses.

“He may make some cuts to frontline workers. I guess only time will tell what will happen,” said Charmain St. Germaine.

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READ MORE: Student-led walkout across Alberta Friday opposing government’s GSA rules

Day 2 of the meeting also included a convention statement of solidarity in support of students standing up for GSAs.

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