People who work as political staff for Alberta’s United Conservative government will be taking a seven per cent salary reduction.
“Last year, we kept our election commitment to cut MLA salaries by five per cent and the premier’s salary by 10 per cent to lead by example during tough fiscal times,” Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday, while at a highway announcement in Airdrie.
“Today we’ve expanded back to include a seven per cent reduction for the political staff who work for me and ministers in our government.”
The adjustment is expected to save nearly $1 million, Kenney said.
“It’s not a huge savings but these symbols are important,” he said.
“We are facing a great fiscal reckoning as a province and we’re going to have to find ways to reduce the cost of government and Albertans understand that.
“The COVID global recession has cost us 25 per cent of our revenues and we’ve got a deficit of over $24 billion.
“We’re going to ask everybody to make sacrifices so that we can live within our means in the future and that has included both elected officials — MLAs and ministers — as well as the folks who work directly with them as political staff.”
Rachel Notley, leader of the Opposition, said most Albertans can see through the UCP pay announcement.
“It is a cheap, political tact designed to distract attention from the fact that this government just announced it was going to fire 11,000 hard-working — primarily women, primarily people of colour — who go into our hospitals each and every day, put themselves at risk to keep our patients and our loved ones well fed and to keep those facilities clean and free — as much as possible — of the virus.
“Those people, Jason Kenney thinks their jobs don’t matter. Somehow, losing those 11,000 jobs won’t have an impact on our economy, especially not in the rural communities where they mostly reside,” she added.
“That’s what this is; it’s a tactic, nothing more.”
Earlier this week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said he will cut up to 11,000 jobs at Alberta Health Services to save money — a move the Opposition NDP says is cruel and will create chaos in the health-care system.
Finance Minister Travis Toews says Shandro is “carefully and thoughtfully” making a number of changes that were recommended in a recent AHS review.
The finance minister added he expects all provincial departments to make recommendations similar to cuts recently announced by the health ministry for next year’s budget.
“Alberta has been hit with a serious triple black swan event,” he said during a news conference Wednesday.
“The global economy experienced the largest contraction since the Great Depression.