The United Nurses of Alberta said Tuesday that employers like Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health are proposing a three per cent salary rollback as the provincial government aims to get its finances sorted.
The union, which represents more than 30,000 nurses in Alberta, said this is on top of other cutbacks like the elimination of semi-annual lump-sum payments as well as reduced shift and weekend premiums.
“This represents at least a five per cent compensation reduction,” UNA said in a post on its website, providing an update on the collective bargaining process.
UNA added that employers did return to current overtime provisions as well as transportation and education allowances.
Alberta’s ‘fiscal reality’
Finance Minister Travis Toews commended the “invaluable role” nurses have played in the COVID-19 pandemic but noted Alberta needs to get its finances back on track.
“On average, Alberta nurses make 5.6 per cent more than in other comparator provinces. This costs Alberta approximately $141 million per year at a time when our finances are already stretched,” he said in a news release on Tuesday.
“The need to bring wages in line with other large provinces does not diminish our deep respect for the exceptional work and dedication of public sector workers. It is simply reflective of our fiscal reality and one that many sectors in the province have experienced.”
Toews said the past 16 months have put a strain on the province, which was already dealing with “high levels of debt and deficit.”
“Alberta can no longer afford to be an outlier,” he said.
“We are hopeful that AHS and UNA will bargain in good faith to ensure health-care workers are treated fairly while being respectful of the province’s fiscal reality.”
The union said parties are scheduled to meet on Thursday.