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Alberta UCP political staffers to take 7% pay cut

Click to play video 'Doug Schweitzer to lead new Alberta jobs, economy and innovation ministry' Doug Schweitzer to lead new Alberta jobs, economy and innovation ministry
WATCH (Aug. 25): Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces MLA Doug Schweitzer will head up the newly-created ministry of jobs, economy and innovation, with the goal of helping steer Alberta through the COVID-19 economic crisis – Aug 25, 2020

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.

Read more: Heated committee meeting sees Alberta cut MLA pay by 5% and 10% for premier

“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.

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“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.

Read more: COVID-19 pandemic, low energy prices leave Alberta with $24.2B deficit

“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.

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“That’s what this is; it’s a tactic, nothing more.”

Read more: Thousands of Alberta Health Services jobs to be cut in effort to save $600M annually

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.

Click to play video 'Alberta government to cut up to 11,000 health care jobs' Alberta government to cut up to 11,000 health care jobs
Alberta government to cut up to 11,000 health care jobs – Oct 13, 2020

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.

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“The global economy experienced the largest contraction since the Great Depression.

“Demand destruction and the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia led to a total collapse in energy prices and, at the same time, we are dealing with the pandemic in our own province.”
In a news release Wednesday, the government said a lot has changed since the last provincial budget in February and that Alberta “now faces a very different set of circumstances and unique challenges.”The province is asking Albertans to share their views and priorities for the upcoming budget.
Click to play video 'All-party commitee votes to cut Alberta MLA pay' All-party commitee votes to cut Alberta MLA pay
All-party commitee votes to cut Alberta MLA pay – Aug 6, 2019
A spokesperson for the province said Thursday that so many Albertans have seen their income decrease this year, and some in the private sector have been dealing with pay cuts since the 2015 downturn.“Today’s move regarding political staff is an acknowledgement that those of us in government can tighten our belts as well,” Christine Myatt said.

— With files from The Canadian Press