Lethbridge public sector workers protest Alberta government cuts

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees flag outside the Alberta Legislature. Supplied,

Members of Canada’s largest union are once again picking up their signs to protest the provincial government’s cuts to the public sector.

AUPE was also joined by representatives from other unions, including the United Nurses of Alberta, and members of the general public in a picket in Lethbridge on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Alberta Health Services cutting hundreds of nursing positions: UNA and NDP

Drivers passing the gathering slowed down to honk support.

With tensions high between public sector workers and the province, it was no surprise to hear chants of: “stand up, fight back,” echoing down the street.

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AUPE vice president Karen Weiers said the concerns expressed by those in attendance should be taken seriously by all Albertans.

“Currently [our concern is] the loss of jobs that they’re anticipating for us,” Weiers said.

“For AUPE alone, we’re looking at a full-time equivalence of 5,900 jobs across the province.

“That’s a huge concern, not only for our members, but for the services provided by our members. These members are currently working short staffed as it is, they’re bare-boned, and [the province] wants to make even further cuts.”

Premier Jason Kenney has repeatedly defended any cuts as necessary belt-tightening, saying the long-term need for a balanced budget supersedes concerns over any short-term ramifications in the midst of a budget crisis.

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READ MORE: Kenney: Opposition, unions treating budget cuts like the ‘the apocalypse’

Another rally was held simultaneously in Claresholm, with participants hoping to make more noise in the legislature by doubling up.

“Albertans realize that their government is working for big corporations instead of for its own citizens,” Weiers said.

“They know it’s wrong to give away billions of dollars to big companies while slashing thousands of jobs, cutting services and rolling back wages.”