The Progressive Conservatives would have you believe that Alberta’s budget is going to turn into a Greece situation tomorrow. Often they have union busted, or at least union bruised, in the public sector, calling for hiring and wage freezes for front-line workers. But it’s not the nurse working 14 hour shifts who is bringing home the big bucks, and freezing those wages often nets the province a meagre amount compared to the budget. If the current government did that now, they’d net about $8 million.
So at first I was surprised to hear that the New Democratic Party has announced cuts themselves. But this time it came with a twist: They were targeting the executives.
Now here’s the really weird part–despite finding almost twice as much room in the budget as a result of these cuts ($16 million)–the “slash, cut and burn” crowd are nowhere to be seen.
You’d think this would have pleased the opposition. After all, just three weeks ago they were screaming that the NDP Government of Premier Rachel Notley must freeze the pay of front-line nurses, health care workers, teachers and civil servants who will be negotiating new collective agreements this year.
Back then, in an official statement, the Wildrose Party called a mediator’s recommendation of raises ranging for 29 cents to 88 cents an hour for 14,000 health care aides and licensed practical nurses represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees “a slap in the face to struggling Albertans.”
Some of those health care workers are currently being paid less than $20 an hour. Freezing their salaries for 2016 as the Wildrosers demanded would have saved the provincial treasury about $8 million.
By contrast, on Friday, the cuts made to the sometimes outrageous pay and perks of only about 270 ABC Sector executives – a hangover from the days when the ABCs served in part as a lush pasture for old Tory warhorses – will save taxpayers roughly double that.
Now, it would be entirely consistent for the Opposition to say, “good step, but not far enough.” Or even, “it was about time they stopped the gravy train!” Instead? Pretty much crickets.
There was nary a quote from the PCs (who are responsible for most of the executive pay rates to which Mr. Ceci took his axe), the Wildrosers (who are after all the Official Opposition) or the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (Canada’s self-described and routinely quoted tax watchdog) in any mainstream media report I noticed.
At any rate, tonight’s beer is dedicated to the NDP. Thanks for cutting the absurd salaries of the schleps who can afford it for once.