Alberta government says visitors can still expect highest standards at Royal Alberta Museum despite layoffs

The exterior of the new $375.5 million Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton. August 16, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

The provincial government says layoffs affecting 26 positions at the Royal Alberta Museum were “tough decisions” but visitors to the attraction “can rest assured that services provided continue to be at the highest standards.”

On Thursday, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees issued a news release after it learned workers received an email from the museum saying “it could be cutting the jobs permanently by April 1 at the latest.”

In an email to Global News on Friday, the press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda said those affected by the cuts are maintenance workers, technicians, power plant operators and caretakers.

“The department needs to make tough decisions and spend taxpayers’ money responsibly,” Hadyn Place wrote. “We have taken a thoughtful approach to address the fiscal challenges and align our spending with government priorities and commitments.

“While these changes reflect our fiscal reality, they do not take away from the hard work and contributions of these museum caretakers.”

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The AUPE said its understanding is the positions will be privatized.

READ MORE: Alberta government to cut contract jobs, reduce hours for 14 heritage sites and museums 

“Once again, (Premier) Jason Kenney’s rhetoric about jobs and the economy has proven that he is lying to Albertans,” said AUPE vice-president Kevin Barry. “The UCP is interested in job cremation, not job creation.”

Barry said he believes the RAM is an important cultural venue in the province and “deserves to be properly funded and staffed.”

Place said as required under labour laws, the government “disclosed planned initiatives that could affect bargaining unit positions over the course of the fiscal plan to the AUPE in November 2019.”

READ MORE: Alberta cutting 930 jobs in social services, agriculture, wildfire management: AUPE 

Barry said the union filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board about the government’s intention of outsourcing jobs. He said when that process was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AUPE filed submissions during the consultation process regarding outsourcing but has no evidence they were considered before the decision was made resulting in layoffs.

“We’re going to fight these job cuts with every means we have available to us,” Barry said.

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The RAM and other museums in Alberta will be closed beginning Sunday as new public health measures take effect to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about the Royal Alberta Museum.

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