Alberta freezes salaries of non-union government staff

EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is freezing the salaries of managers and non-unionized public-sector workers for two years as it deals with nosediving oil and gas prices.

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Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the move affects 7,000 civil servants and will save $57 million.

He says the government has moved to strengthen revenue sources as it wrestles with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit caused by plunging petroleum prices. But he says expenses also have to be looked at closely to stabilize costs.

"This is not a decision we made lightly," Ceci said Wednesday at a news conference at the legislature. "However, to maintain stability and protect jobs within the public service, we must deal with the economic realities we are facing."

The government is heading into new rounds of bargaining with public-sector workers, including teachers and nurses, over the next two years.

Ceci was asked if the salary freeze is to be seen as a heads up to the unions who will be representing those workers in contract talks.

"Every Albertan knows that these are difficult times and I assume when collective bargaining occurs ... the economy that we are in today will be part of those discussions."

The government is honouring existing contracts, Ceci added.

The province will pay out almost $25 billion this year in salaries -- equivalent to half the total amount of government revenue.

The pay for cabinet ministers and legislature members has already been frozen until 2019.



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