by Stephen Dafoe
At an interchange announcement in Airdrie Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that government staff who work for the premier and the ministers would be taking a 7 per cent pay cut.
“Last year we kept our election commitment to cut MLA salaries by 5 per cent and the premier’s salary by 10 per cent to lead by example during tough fiscal times,” Kenney said in response to a media question. “Today we’ve expanded that to include a 7 per cent reduction for the political staff who work for me and ministers in our government that we expect will save nearly a million dollars. It’s not a huge saving, but these symbols are important. We are facing a great fiscal reckoning as a province, and we are going to have to find ways to reduce the cost of government. Albertans understand that.”
Kenney went on to say the COVID-19 global recession. has cost the province 25 per cent of its revenues, and that the province now has a $24 billion deficit.
“We’re going to make everyone make sacrifices so that we can live within our means,” Kenney said, adding that includes elected officials and those who work for them.”
The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, a non-profit lobby that advocates for low taxes, supported Thursday’s decision.
“Many Albertans outside of government are struggling with pay cuts and jobs losses so cutting political staff salaries is a good step to show taxpayers that the government is willing to share some of the economic burden,” said Alberta Director Franco Terrazzano. “The UCP deserves credit for tightening its belt, and this pay cut helps give Premier Jason Kenney the moral authority to do what needs to be done to put Alberta’s finances back together.”
The CTF says Government of Alberta labour costs have grown by almost 15 per cent ($3.5 billion and more than 10,000 additional employees) between 2014 and 2019, while Alberta employee compensation has declined by 5 per cent in that same period.
“We’ve seen Kenney and MLAs take a cut, now we’re seeing their staffers share in the downturn, and next we need to see that happen across government,” Terrazzano said.