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Councillor wants Calgary union employees to agree to wage freeze

Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland is calling for a hold to be put on the 1.5 per cent wage increase that union workers were set to receive in 2020.

A Calgary councillor says he will be filing a notice of motion on Friday that effectively calls for a one-year wage freeze for all City of Calgary’s union employees, including the Calgary Fire Department and the Calgary Police Service.

Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland is calling for a hold to be put on the 1.5 per cent wage increase that union workers were set to receive in 2020.

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Ward told Global News an increase in union wages would result in a significant increase to taxes.

“A 1.5 per cent wage increase is actually a 1.8 increase in taxes — $31 million,” Sutherland explained. “So in order for us to get, for example, a ‘zero’ for 2020 — we have to cut $53 million.”

“[To] put that in perspective — we just did an emergency cut in August of $60 million, now we have to add on another cut of $53 million to get to zero — so this is really significant.”
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Sutherland said 1.5 per cent comes out to about $18 a pay cheque for someone that makes $50,000 a year.

He said the City of Calgary only has “so much money” and they will be forced into letting people go if they can’t get tax rates down.

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Sutherland went on to say he thinks it’s important that the unions get proper notice so leaders and members can have their own dialogue about how the voluntary wage freeze would impact them.

He told Global News the move would go a long way to helping Calgarians keep their taxes down in already difficult time.

– With files from Matthew Conrod